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Nice Try, Sunshine! A Swedish Pop Mixtape
Released: 8th June 2021
|LP pink vinyl||£22.99||Out of Stock|
|LP black vinyl||£21.99||Out of Stock|
For some inexplicable reason, an innate nous for sparkling melody and propensity for melancholy go hand in hand for the youth of Sweden. For the youth of Sweden specifically in the early parts of the 21st century specifically, when a disparate scene across the country's urban centres sprang up enthrall to classic indie pop, shoegaze and a myriad other sub-genres beloved primarily in the UK from the mid-80s onward. Of course, pop groups like The Concretes were household names in niche lovers' houses, but on this evidence there was a whole cornucopia of sweet, bitter and bittersweet pop music built on the handy foundations of heartbreak and pop music devotion.
Compiled on Nice Try, Sunshine are 14 groups who shone briefly or maybe didn't even shine, just quietly glowed in their corner of obscurity, before vanishing back in the cloisters of dark time. Appetite's ode to the era hangs together wonderfully, so many great songs full of panache, character and warmth that it's almost sad that this amounts to a kind of indie pop Swedish Nuggets or Killed By Death comp, these bands should have been waaaay more successful.
Just because it's fun, let's give a quick run down of all the songs.
Days' Downhill kicks off the compilation, with the singer having a Neil Tennant tonality singing over a jangling guitar and Camera Obscura-style arrangement. Sept by Japan Air has a swooning Factory records kind of groove, like that sweet spot just before New Order found their full-throttle dance legs. Funday Mornings' Killing Thomas is primo 1983 indie pop with overtones of Calypso (yes) but a thumping lo fi nature which makes the whole thing feel more like a breakneck punk record high to the nines on fructose. It's over in 1:30m. Perfect. Second Hand Furniture's eponymous song is pure well, sunshine on a shady day, with a 16 beat drum pattern and clipped guitar giving the female vocal a lift to the skies, breezy is an understatement, it's ice cream knocked off the sugarcone but it doesn't matter there's more where that came from, it's making the most of the day because in 4 months it'll only last 3 hours for the next 4 months. You know what I mean. Action Biker bring the synth to the pop with a highly evocative, classic sad banger in Farrah, which really revels in the Swedish accent and summer nights being wasted. Signed Papercuts unfortunately we couldn't find online, so let's preserve the mystery on that. Ring Snuten has big DX7 atmosphere, glistening digital synthesizers and reverb-wetted drums before a super-sweet vocal details an archetypal school disco heartbreak scenario. We've all been there right? How can someone so young be so sad? Because that's when everything hits the hardest! This track is so close to a kind of pastiche you can imagine an American pop punk band doing for a laugh but it's dead serious and... whisper it... might be the best track on this wonderful album.
Side B, let's go. From 2005, Paddington Distortion Combo (not sure where the name comes from) has a frankly eccentrically mixed track called Something To Say which sails into the borders of Noise Pop, specifically a buzz-saw guitar and tin pot drums but it's held back by cracking vocals that hang the flag of melody on the mast. Can you hang flags ON masts? By far the biggest name on the comp, this super rare Jens Lekman track from an early demo uses samples, electronic drums and cut up bits of other songs to narrate a story about spiders, it's quite redolent of the late 90s sampledelica that was around everywhere but helmed with Lekman's already instantly recognisable vocal. In 2002, Florian are hammering a mini symphony into a warbling 4-track (we're assuming) with a baroque arrangement and an effortless middle of summer sunburnt high pitched vocal that ducks and dives through the sweet clatter with grace. Rough Bunnies have a totally different vibe, love it. Super lo fi, apparently a toy drum kit pummelled into the ground with a single string guitar and vocal, it's primitive and just perfect, like power pop envisioned by Billy Childish in Gothenburg. Wait, this might be the best song on the comp, for completely different reasons!? If Free Loan Investments don't have the best song on here, they have the best song title, Kick His Balls Out. It's also a great song, jangling and fizzing with a 60s beat rhythm and jubliant guitar chord progression. Side B's uber obscure is My Darling YOU! who I can't find anything about and I'm not going to break the seal on this. The Honeydrips close the comp with a Swedish-language heartmelter. The guys's got a lovely voice and is backed by a slowly building arrangement that feels way more expensive than it must have been, it slowly swells and builds into a frankly unsustainable amount of melodrama. It's so overblown and earnest, bloody brilliant.
In summary, it's really hard to imagine how any of these tracks weren't super popular in the global indie pop world. Oh yeah, probably because it's dominated by Anglo-American groups and that's a real shame, it feels like we've been missing out on so much great pop music.