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Röd

Kent

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Album Review

Röd, the follow-up album to Kent's seventh full-length effort, Tillbaka Till Samtiden (2007), is in several ways a continuation of its predecessor. Tillbaka Till Samtiden had been a commercial as well as critical success for Kent, topping the Swedish albums chart for a month's time, spawning a few Top Ten hit singles, and winning the band not one but two Swedish Grammy Awards, for both Group of the Year and Album of the Year. The success of Tillbaka Till Samtiden was in part due to the band's embrace of synthesizers and electronic programming. For instance, the smash hit lead single, "Ingenting," was bolstered by a buzzing synthesizer riff and electronic beats, and another song from the album, "Berlin," is a nod toward the epicenter of the world-renowned German electronic music scene. The success of Tillbaka Till Samtiden was also in part due to award-winning Danish producer Joshua (born Jon Schumann), known for his impressive work on Mew's And the Glass Handed Kites (2005), among other celebrated Scandinavian rock albums. Röd once again finds Kent embracing electronics in collaboration with Joshua, yet rather than remake Tillbaka Till Samtiden, they've gone further in the direction of that album, pushing themselves into new stylistic territory. They chose to record much of the album in Berlin at Hansa Tonstudio, a storied recording studio on Köthener Strasse adjacent to where the Berlin Wall once stood. It's where David Bowie and Brian Eno recorded the classic albums Low (1977) and Heroes (1977), and it's also where Depeche Mode recorded some of their classic material in the mid-'80s. Kent no doubt found inspiration in the walls of this old studio, for mid-'80s Depeche Mode is indeed a point of comparison for Röd, an album where guitars and drums often are secondary to synthesizers and programmed beats. Röd's chart-topping lead single, "Töntarna," is sequenced second to last on the album, a wondrous electro-rock climax that's far more electronic than it is rock, with vocalist Joakim Berg even sounding a bit robotic amid densely layered synthesizer riffs and beats. The album's second single, "Hjärta," is less abrasive, graced with soaring vocals by Berg, a lush orchestral arrangement, acoustic guitar, and a bit of electronics that creep into the second half of the song. Another highlight is "Taxmannen," which kicks the album into high gear after the ambient opener, "18:29-4," sets the stage with a couple minutes of choir and organ, suggesting a religious conceptual frame to Röd, a motif further suggested on the mid-album epic "Vals för Satan (Din vän Pessimisten)." Like their British counterparts Radiohead, Kent have evolved over the years without losing any of their fan base or any of their critical acclaim, as they started out in the mid-'90s as a fairly straightforward alternative rock band and later began experimenting with electronic music, never more so than on Röd.

Biography

Formed: 1990 in Eskilstuna, Sweden

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

With indie pop growing all over Sweden in the mid-'90s, Kent became one of the biggest Swedish bands during that decade. Kent was formed in Eskilstuna in 1990, when singer/songwriter Joakim Berg and lead guitarist Sami Sirvio met at school. They formed a band and were soon joined by drummer Markus Mustonen, bassist Martin Skold, and guitarist Martin Roos. In the beginning they changed their name a couple of times, and after a short period as Havsanglar (Seaangels), they decided to call themselves...
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Röd, Kent
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