Here is the best unknown band the U.S. has yet to discover. Their sound has inspired hipster duos and an entire generation of stripped down alternative bands that create from a tiny room and 4track. They make it sound easy of course, and THAT is where the art lies.
Club 8's new recording leaves the festive, communal, every-man-for-himself chaos of their previous album The People's Record. Johan Angergard is once again back at the controls, and the intimate sound of Club 8: electronica, Karolina Komstedt's reverb-laden, wispy vocals singing songs about time, aging, belonging, and identity return. However, this 8th installment in Club's 8's discography has matured along with the listener. The innocence and youth of Spring Came, Rain Fell and Summer Songs are dried memories of seasons past. The imminent progress of time is one record closer to our hero/heroine duo.
Kill Kill Kill opens like a funeral dirge, reminiscent of Juan del Enzina's Villancicos in the Spanish Renaissance. "I always cared for those who kill, now throw another life into this fire." A far cry from "stupid girl, those charming men won't look at me, I'm not blonde enough but I still believe in love." But just as you think it's all mope and grope, the second song turns over the engine and picks up beat with a vintage Giorgio Moroder synth hook as Karolina sings "You're stealing my heart away, But not in a "lover" way. I feel as if my blood has gone, Oh baby, come on!" Ah, once again that topic that Club 8 has turned almost into their obsession in and of itself: time and age, literally stealing one's heart away day by day.
Cruising along, "You Could Be Anybody" sets midtempo, restrained and confident, Club 8 is back in their zone: simplicity, Swedish economy, and a whispery voice in the back of your head, telling you things you'd rather not hear. It's like a karaoke gone wrong.
Did Karolina drop the "f-bomb" in the opening of RUN? No, according to lyrics, it says "Fought the pain, we've got nothing left to prove." Are they trying to upstage Manfred Mann in the most misheard lyrics of all time? Well, you judge. Every one I know - myself included - will precede "we've got nothing left to prove" with only one phrase.
Although it's still the Club 8 sound, the duo has somehow been transformed by the experience of The People's Record. Traces of musical hooks from Asian pop songs (where their fans are legion) and Brazilian choirs surface here and there, Run is no exception.
Interlude is probably my favorite song on in Above The City. It's an atmospheric instrumental based on four chords. Experimental and daring in a beautiful way St. Etienne once was, before it became all about Sarah's voice.
Hot Sun gallops into the picture in a trotting rhythm. Electronic ambient sounds lushly echo the landscape in a cool, vibrant, shroomy comfort.
If it's accessible poppy songs you were looking for, A Small Piece of Heaven follows. Light, airy, with a rhythmic hook. "Ahh's" come out of your speakers like refreshed mouthwash shots.
"I'm Not Going To Grow Old" is Club 8 giving advancing time all the guns she's got. Time is the most unstoppable force in mankind. You can't fight time with kindness and joy. You pull out the biggest baddest weapon you got: that's right: The Rick Astley riff. Time has little chance against the Rick Astley riff.
Interlude #2 is someone whispering from far away. A great palette cleanser for the ears after the boisterous sendup of the previous song.
Into Air returns to the classic Moroder synth sound. Beautiful whispery singing from Karolina contrasts with the hard Moogy square waves. Almost a history lesson in the evolution of the electronic pop song, crafted expertly in the hands of this amazing duo.
Instrumental is my second favorite song, harkening back to the ambient days of The Orb and more experimental Chemical Brothers. Some might misconstrue this as "filler" for lack of material, but to me, this shows that Club 8 is still fearless in launching out in new directions, ready to experiment and evolve in their sound. That's why they remain my favorite current band.
The instrumental segues beautifully into the melancholy "Travel," a simple ruminative song painted with the sentiment of what the Brazilians called Saudade. A keyboard and a few voices is all that is needed.
The children's chorus of The People's Record begins with Less Than Love, an enigmatic song of things that somehow cannot be uttered, or written.
Straight As An Arrow closes the album in a rousing "We Will Rock You" beat of the rock anthem. A gorgeous break occurs when it's just pounding drums and Karolina's delicate voice.
Club 8 shows no sign of slowing down. They don't rest on formula, easy-to-please lyrics, or just churning out another album per se.
They have traveled, they're going places, and it shows.
Sure time is unstoppable, and we're all getting older. The end is inevitable and we're all going to kick the bucket, but with MC's like Club 8, they shine a little light to give us all a bit of courage to face the darkness.