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Strangely beautiful

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Album Review

Strangely Beautiful is Club 8's best and most varied record to date. Their last album, Spring Came, Rain Fell, found the group treading water for the most part — the sound was there but the songs and the imagination were not. On this album, the band's trademark blend of soft indie pop guitars, perky dance beats, melancholy synthesizers, and sweet and innocent vocals remains intact, but Johan Angergard, the chief architect of Club 8's sound, seems to have spent some effort trying to expand their sound a little. The work pays off handsomely and the album sounds full of life and energy. Songs like "I Wasn't Much of a Fight," with its insistent rhythm, spunky vocals from the usually docile Karolina Komstedt, and a very witty guitar line that quotes Little Peggy March's "I Will Follow," or the best song on the record, "Saturday Night Engine," an Angergard-sung dancefloor stomper that struts like ABBA meets Northern soul and features their most exciting and original arrangement to date, bounce with a newfound sense of excitement and focus. Even the songs that sound like Club 8 by-the-numbers — such as the dreamy, melancholy "Cold Hearts" and the lilting "The Beauty of the Way We're Living" — sound fresh. Maybe it is because Angergard has written his strongest batch of melodies yet. Other tunes include "The Next Step You'll Take," with its chiming vibes and lovely vocals, or "This Is the Morning," a brief and brokenhearted acoustic ballad sung by Angergard with Komstedt's angelic whisper backing him. It is nice to see a band that had started to flag turn it around so strongly and release the best record of their career. Club 8 fans and indie poppers should be overjoyed.


Formed: 1995 in Sweden

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in 1995, Club 8 became one of the pillars of Sweden's pop scene with a string of melodic, eclectic albums. Members Karolina Komstedt and Johan Angergård had previously worked together in the band Poprace, and their new group -- which began as a recording project before growing into a full-fledged touring band -- explored everything from bossa nova to trip-hop. Pop always remained at the center of Club 8's sound, though, and Angergård made additional contributions to Swedish music by helping...
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Strangely beautiful, Club 8
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