Friday, December 12, 2008

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2008: Number 19

When we first came across Those Dancing Days round about last May they seemed a infectiously cheerful, catchy concoction even by Swedish indiepop standards. They're five girls from the amusingly named Nacka (a suburb of Stockholm), they set great store by vintage organ sounds, their drummer Cissi Efraimsson is a powerhouse and singer Linnea Jönsson has spectacular curly hair. The difference essentially was that first song we heard, Hitten, Swedish for "the hit" and sounding like one, a whole lot of charm, a whole lot of Northern Soul refracted hooks and a soulful Jönsson vocal of great charm and no small amount of loosely hidden melancholy and foreboding - "I wanna know what I'm thinking, what I'm feeling... I wanna know how I plan to make things easier for everyone but me".

Hitten is here as is their eponymous UK debut single (track 11 of 12, curiously), opening with Farfisa fanfares and thunderous drums before turning into a giddy manifesto based on "living for music, living in a dance". Run Run's joy of open air freedom claims "the city is further away and I love that I can't stay" bolstered by a particularly warmly soulful Jönsson vocal, chorus lyric "the sky's way bigger than I ever thought it could be" perfectly reflecting that sense of teenage falling out of the family nest. Duet Under Waters is about the most restrained thing here, driven almost entirely by handclaps, offbeat marching drum patterns and twinkling keys as Jönsson suggests "your eyes point at your transparent inside" before suggesting "follow me down under" in a chorus that resembles a Nuggets garage hook stripped to the bone. It's interesting how such language of growing pains are clarified in music so joyous and fizzy you wonder how badly mere mastertape is holding it back, largely this alt-Motown clip but borrowing tricks primarily from Blondie and 60s garage. Such is their awareness of pop's back catalogue that Shuffle is entirely comprised from song titles, which doesn't quite make for a solid story but is nonetheless a brave attempt to do something unusual. But this is an album made by a gang of young girls that reflects Kids' first line "could we still be kids, children, youth or old". Kenickie, a band you know we love, used to do this, wrapping self-doubt into their upbeat personalities and glam-pop confections so tightly only the careful noticed. In Our Space Hero Suits is both a tribute to the vitality of youthful exuberance and a note of caution about what else that youth and young womanhood emotionally involves.


The full list


Anonymous said...

As usual your top albums countdown is more interesting than most out there. I've just bought this album purely on the basis of what you've written here and the accompanying video.


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