May 03, 2005

Caesers "Paper Tigers"

I've gotta hand it to Sweden's music scene. Over the past few years, there's been a dramatic increase in the number of quality bands (Thirdimension, TSOOL, Perishers, Concretes--to name a few). This isn't a bad thing! If anything, it should be humbling, because this tiny little nation (along with the rest of the Scandinavia region, to be honest) has shown that, in terms of making quality Rock Music, we have clearly lost our way. It started back in the late 1990s with the Hives and (International) Noise Conspiracy, but at the time, those bands' nationality seemed to be a bit of a novelty, a promotional gimmick for punk bands entering into an oversaturated American scene. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives appeared, and for those in the know, Behind The Music was the de facto Nevermind for the Swedish invasion.

You've more than likely heard their song "Jerk It Out" on a commercial for iPods. It's a happy, hyper Farfisa-driven sugar-coated song that's instantly catchy--the type of song that deserves to be ubiquitous. That their first foray into America's music scene comes via TV commercials for a product that allows you to shuffle very randomly between all kinds of music is very telling, because their sound is so indebted to the past forty years of rock music. From the poppy sensibilites of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to the bigger rock stylings of Bowie, U2 and Oasis, Caesars are a happy shuffle between all the sounds and the songs and the styles that constitute both "classic" and "modern" rock. That they do so without ever sounding derivative only makes Paper Tigers even more enjoyable. (Of course, it doesn't hurt that lead singer César Vidal more than occasionally sounds like a dead ringer for John Lennon and Noel Gallagher!)

The rest of Paper Tigers is equally enjoyable, even if the songs don't quite have the hyper-enthusiasm of"Jerk It Out." They've got a knack for writing tunes that are undeniably catchy; from the hand-clapping excellence of "We Got To Leave" to the one-two punch of "It's Not The Fall" and "Out There," they show that they're more than this year's commercial one-hit wonder (Trio, anyone?). They temper their faster moments with some really good mellow numbers like "My Heart Is Breaking" and "Winter Song," and this mixture of styles makes Paper Tigers an excellently excecuted and undeniably rewarding album. And, truth be told, "Jerk It Out"--while a really fun song--ultimately seems out of place, and it shouldn't be considered the album's focal point.

Sadly, it's all too apparent that Caesars have been caught in that one-hit wonder trap, and expecting the world to listen to what they're capable of--I don't think that's going to happen. That's a shame, because Paper Tigers is a really great record. They're certainly a band to be reckoned with, and if you're a lover of great sounding rock, then the Caesars are your band.

--Joseph Kyle

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