July 20, 2003

Club 8 "Strangely Beautiful"

Talk about coming at exactly the right time! Strangely Beautiful comes at a time when the discriminating pop fan needs relief from all this hot, hot heat, and like a frothy milkshake, its a cooling, chilled-out affair. The lovely duo of Johan Angergard and Karolina Komstedt present their vision of pop music as they know it, and it's an extremely lovely affair, one that's rich and intoxicating yet never ever heavy. Sure, there have been comparisons--unfair comparisons--to Saint Etienne and the Cardigans, but let's not focus on that for right now. Komstedt's voice is a wonderful commodity; aloof yet confident; sensitive yet strong; sweet yet seductive.

Strangely Beautiful starts off with the seductive, after-hours drive-hope radio-friendly pop of "When Lights Go Out," and it never strays from that pattern. Indeed, this is romantic, down-beat, chillout music, the kind that you use to wind down with--or to get in the mood. Their pop formula works extremely well, even if it's one that's quite limited in nature. You know what you're getting from Club 8, and thankfully, they never fail to disappoint. And while earlier comparisons of St. Etienne or the Cardigans might have been valid, with Strangely Beautiful, Club 8 have clearly come into their own sound, and they no longer sound indebted to anyone but themselves.

If there's one complaint with Strangely Beautiful, it's that it passes by too quickly. Eleven songs in thirty minutes? It doesn't seem like it. Besides, I'm kind of selfish. I want to hear more shuffling bossanova (like "The Next Step You'll Take"), more downbeat electropop (like "We Move in Silence"), more classic pop (dig the flagrant"I Will Follow Him" riff in "I Wasn't Much of a Fight") and more vocals from Johan ("Saturday Night Engine," "This is the morning"). Yes, I want more of Strangely Beautiful, simply because it's one of this year's most likeable Europop albums.

--Joseph Kyle

No comments: