It opens with the lead single 'Stop Taking My Time’, which sounds like the decrees of an ice-maiden but offers an impassioned plea. It has that classic Kleerup sound where the banks of keyboards roll like a symphony. The chorus scratches and itches with anxiety and the middle eight provides a tangent for all those who can’t speak Swedish, as a child spiels out in spoken word something about his gran.
Nothing really gets as clinical as ‘Stop Making My Time’. ‘You Could Be Anybody’ has the laid back lazy beats of chill out music but is cloaked with xylophones and ‘Run’ has a huge, huge, chorus but it romps along with a dusk infused Camera Obscura feel. Above the City as an album flits between night and day, it sets its night adventures in the stylised bars of Stockholm and its daytime escapades on the solitary shores of the country's small summer holiday towns.
‘Hot Sun’ is an energy-zapped song, reeling from a bit too much UV. It seems every Swedish album (or more accurately every good Swedish album) has to have at least one song about meeting a party. Eight albums in, you’re still never too old to face lock at a party. A slow drum shuffle underpins sparse wood sticks and the occasional push of a small keyboard line or guitar trill. It’s sleepy and peaceful in recounting a relationship.
Club 8 have created an album that sounds like summer - it sounds like a fucking great summer. Tender but bold and with an array of melodies that strike straight at the heart, it has all the ingredients of a classic Swedish pop album. Bravo.
(Drowned In Sound)
Above the City, while as stylistically diverse as Club 8's back catalog, is once again strikingly of the moment. After turning to producer Jari Haapalainen (Camera Obscura, the Concretes) for 2010's The People's Record, which delved into African-inspired polyrhythms, Angergård returns to the boards-- or, the old-school Cubase VST audio software-- this time around. Centered around icy synth pop and vibrant disco, the band's latest should be readily embraced among audiences primed by the Drive soundtrack, Daft Punk's "Get Lucky", and the diaspora of groups influenced by the Knife's "Heartbeats." That said, the record largely maintains Club 8's familiar low-key reserve, coming across as yet another natural evolution from a self-aware act that has always been endearingly off-center.
Even after so many little sonic shifts over the years, Above the City still impresses with how adeptly Club 8 conquer new terrain. Opener "Kill Kill Kill" bears the late-night post-disco skulk of Johnny Jewel's Italians Do It Better groups. Fellow preview track "Stop Taking My Time", with its creepy sampled chatter, finds Komstedt raising her voice to inhabit gothy 80s synths convincingly-- think Robyn's "Dancing on My Own" if she wanted to be on her own, goddammnit. "Hot Sun" just as convincingly rolls out the beach blanket for a dubwise meditation. And the album's closing two songs are glossy stompers so uncharacteristically outsized that Angergård has said he considered sampling Queen's "We Will Rock You".
It's all done well enough to make for for Club 8's best album since 2007's The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming, and a sure bet to become someone's favorite. The minimal techno-inspired strut of "You Could Be Anybody" or the gauzy electro-pop grandeur of "Run" could make for equally easy entry points. It's fair to say the various instrumentals are skippable, but then we don't say that for Johnny Jewel records; it's also fair to say that Club 8 retain an intangible sense that they're at a slight emotional remove when compared with clear inspirations like Saint Etienne or Felt. But when Komstedt coos, over the ebullient neo-disco of "I'm Not Gonna Grow Old", that "I want to stay somewhat like me," it's clear Club 8 hope to remain constantly open to new perspectives while still staying true to themselves.