Scandinavian crime noir has caught the imagination of an international audience, and ‘Scandicana’ is set to do the same for music. A Scandinavian version of Americana, this Swedish band delivers their distillation of the genre well.
Previous albums, “Down to Earth” (2011) and “Future Echoes and Past Replays” (2013) both received very positive reviews from prestigious quarters. “Love and Fear” (released 19th May, 2015) has 11 tracks and is the third album from this Stockholm quartet. As well as toe-tapping folk rock, they slow it down for melancholy-dripping ballads. Also, 1960’s British rock/pop is a guest at the feast. The album’s cover photo looks like guests waiting to go to a shotgun wedding in the woods.
For me, the very first track is the best one. “Never Danced Sober” doesn’t take long to stick in your mind, its gentle harmonies ebbing and flowing in all the right places.
Evidence of that 60’s vibe is on “Sparkling Sun”- another one that plants hooks in the mind. “World” drifts in, spaced out and Beatles-like. In fact, it puts me in mind of George Harrison’s song, “Blue Jay Way”. Obviously, Slim Loris are Beatles fans, and they must have got a kick out of playing at Liverpool’s iconic Cavern Club in 2014 as part of their UK tour.
No matter what style of music played, Jonas Ellenberg’s drumming is imaginative and solid. On “Going Home”, he plays a pattern more usually heard in the context of reggae, but somehow it works on this country-rock track with plucking banjo. “Better Than I” has a very simple arrangement, led by acoustic guitar, and it’s the addition of a simple drum beat that takes it somewhere other than standard singer-songwriter fare.
Sweet, clean electric guitar keeps things fresh, as on “Once”, a slow, melancholic and haunting song. Vocal harmonies also enhance their songs, especially on “Down”, the first single from the album. It’s an obvious single, with great pizzicato (I’m a sucker for that) and a catchy chorus.
You can’t beat a bit of feel-good for rocking on the porch, so “Kings and Queens” mixes folk and upbeat horns, and why not. “A House of Our Own” also has joyful horns and makes you want to dance, with early 60’s pop and a twist of reggae.
This band likes to absorb all their different influences in one place and send it out to the world, resulting in a diverse album. That doesn’t really bother me, although some people may find such diversity unsettling. This jumps from love to fear and back again – reality bites meets musical chairs.