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The People's Record

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Album Review

While Club 8 has always maintained a pretty steady sound and identity as a dreamily melancholy band, the half of the duo responsible for the music has pursued a more unpredictable path in his solo project, the Legends. On each of their records Johan Angergård has been like a musical sponge soaking up his current interest, whether it was noise pop, synth pop, or post-punk, and then re-creating it with uncanny precision. Up until now, there have only been hints of this skill in Club 8’s output. That all changes on their 2010 release The People’s Record, which shows the result of Angergård and Club 8’s vocalist Karolina Komstedt’s discovery of, and subsequent love for, West African pop of the late '60s and '70s. Unlike their contemporaries who use African sounds as a flavoring device, the duo immerses themselves fully in the sound right down to the tone of the organ. Angergård’s guitar work in particular is authentic to the point where it’s hard to believe he hasn’t been playing in this style for years. While you could be cynical and say this embrace of such a hip reference point was a marketing ploy of some kind, it’s hard to listen to the joy and energy that come bursting out of the grooves and see it as anything other than a labor of love. You could also doubt that they could make it all work, given the detached and cool feel of past Club 8 records, but somehow Komstedt’s airy and sweet vocals sound perfect when blended with the warm-as-the-sun rhythms, bubbling guitars, and wonderfully cheesy organ. It helps that these are some of the best songs they’ve written: "Western Hospitality," "Shape Up!," and "We’re All Going to Die" would be good even if played on toy pianos and recorders. The uptempo songs are full of life and happiness, the few slow songs have a subdued grace that is trademark Club 8, and when taken together, they add up to the band’s best record to date. Certainly it’s the record that takes the most chances and has the most highly developed sense of adventure; that it succeeds so fully is a mark of both the note-perfect production, Angergård’s musical abilities, and Komstedt’s enchanting and surprisingly soulful vocals. Oh, and the songs!


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...
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The People's Record, Club 8
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