Another album of breezy Swedish pop? Sure, why not? The new album by ceo, White Magic
, is like a glass of watermelon lemonade. How bad could it be? This solo project by Eric Berglund of The Tough Alliance features orchestral samples, popping synth arpeggios, handclaps, acoustic guitars and melodies so shameless, they sound like they were left off the Grease
soundtrack for being too cute.
These eight songs clock in at just under thirty minutes and there's been some grumbling that there's just not enough music here to call it a full-length album. But it's not the running time that's the issue. The album's opener, "All Around," has two verses but no chorus. The title track features a chorus, but no verses. Don't spend time looking for bridges because there aren't any. In fact, when you add it up, there are really only four complete songs here. The rest rely on sunny atmospherics to fill in the blanks.
Despite the fact that some of the material feels incomplete, the parts that are there are so melodic, they almost don't need anything else. "Oh God Oh Dear," combines single note cello and violin lines, bare bones percussion and a tune as simple as a campfire sing-a-long. In "Illuminata," Berglund channels Simon LeBon with a little ABBA thrown in for good measure and who couldn't get excited about that combo platter? "No Mercy," features a strange sword unsheathing sample on top of chattering sequencers. The album's opener, "All Around," contains a gorgeous five note cello part that is revisited at the end of the album. The strings, although they sound like they're played on keyboard, are sharply arranged. Most of the time, in a pop context, orchestral elements are confined to simply holding long chordal pads, or hammering out quarter notes. These are active and propulsive, moving the songs along, supporting the melody, but also stepping out to create counterpoint.
There's an odd element of early 60's pop hidden behind the obscure samples and chattering keyboards. "Love and do What You Will," could be an amped up "Under the Boardwalk," by the Drifters. Many of the songs follow very simple, major to relative minor chord progressions and when Berglund runs out of words, he turns to doo-doo-doo's to get him through.
Lyrically light, insanely catchy and completely non-threatening, White Magic
is a nice, quick, Summer listen. And nothing more.-dan siegler
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MP3: "White Magic"
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