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European (European)

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Album Review

Sambassadeur's 2010 full-length, European, offers a refreshing departure from the band’s previous effort, Migration — an album that, while it was by no means bad, was ultimately a tad one-dimensional compared to Sambassadeur's earlier work, thanks in large part to its glassy-smooth production (granted, it was pretty, but it worked to flatten out the album entirely). European can be seen as a meeting point between Migration and Sambassadeur's earlier work: it takes the jangly, shambling warmth of the band’s self-titled debut and gives it a layer of glossy varnish. It also finds the group dipping into '80s dance-pop and soft rock influences; there’s a good shake of campiness to be found on European. The result is an album with a windblown, cinematic feel. The production sounds practically dewy, something like the musical equivalent of a soft-focus lens; there are times when it teeters on the edge of sounding saccharine, especially when it comes to the crystalline piano notes that open up the album’s first track, "Stranded." European spills over with soundtrack-style flourishes: crisp, cool string arrangements ("Days," "I Can Try"); triumphant drum rolls ("Forward Is All"); and rollicking piano chords. The album’s stand-out track, “I Can Try,” sounds, in the best possible way, like something off the soundtrack of a John Hughes movie thanks to its oh-so-'80s instrumentation (wind chimes, synthesized strings, a drum machine, and yes, a saxophone solo). Granted, it’s the kind of approach that risks sounding goofy, but by and large, European strikes a nice balance between genuine and theatrical, shambling and shiny.

Biography

Formed: 2007 in Gothenberg, Sweden

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

One of the many accomplished indie pop bands in Sweden in the 2000s, Gothenberg's Sambassadeur make beautifully wistful, hazy music along the lines of the Go-Betweens, Belle & Sebastian, and the Magnetic Fields — all of whom the band cites as influences, along with more left-field choices like Wire and France Gall. Sambassadeur formed in fall 2003, when guitarist/songwriter Joachim Läckberg, vocalist/guitarist Anna Persson, and guitarist/vocalist Daniel Permbo were all studying in the town...
Full Bio
European (European), Sambassadeur
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