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Music Sounds Better With You

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Album Review

It’s hard to believe six years elapsed between Acid House Kings albums. From listening to their catalog of easygoing, effortlessly hooky songs, you get the impression that the group could roll out of bed and write ten bittersweet singalong tunes before breakfast. While that may indeed be the case, the trio took extra care on Music Sounds Better with You to whittle down their stockpile of songs until they were left with what they felt were the ten best, then polished them in the studio until they shone like diamonds. The arrangements are light but rich, with loads of well-placed keys, horns, and synth strings dotting the mix, the vocal performances hit all the right emotional notes, and the songs themselves are memorably melancholy and sweet. It’s the same basic formula that worked so well on Sing Along With and there are few sonic differences between the two albums. The most notable divergence is the use of castanets on every single track of Music. It may sound like a novelty at first, but it turns out the click-clack of the castanets fits incredibly well with the breezy bounce of the songs and gives the album a little extra bit of drama. As for the songs themselves, they are split as usual between the vocals of Julia Lannerheim and Niklas Angergård, each singing with a smooth and untroubled delivery that sneaks the sadness in quietly but with maximum impact. The album, too, is split between brightly uptempo songs that sound like they were crafted in the Swedish equivalent of the Motown studio ("Are We Lovers or Are We Friends?," "Waterfall," and the breathtakingly catchy "Would You Say Stop?") and heart-tugging midtempo ballads that sound like they were sung from tear-stained lyric sheets ("Where Have You Been?," "There Is Something Beautiful"). It’s a wonderful balance that proves that the care they put into choosing the songs didn’t go to waste. Behind the songs is the musical mastery of Johan Angergård, who produces the album with the same sure hand he applies to every project he’s ever worked on. The combination of songs, sound, and performance make this another near-perfect album from the trio. Those who have fallen under their charmingly sweet spell can only hope it doesn’t take another six years for the next one.


Formed: Sweden

Genre: Pop

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

After the breakup of their band Poprace, singer/guitarist Niklas Angergård and his bassist brother Johan joined up with guitarist Joakim Ödlund and formed the Swedish twee-pop trio Acid House Kings in 1991. Initially inspired by their shared disappointment over the breakup of Felt and common dissatisfaction with Morrissey's Kill Uncle album, the trio began crafting a innocent and simple brand of pop. Signing to the German label Marsh Marigold, the group issued its debut EP, Play Pop!, in early 1992,...
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Music Sounds Better With You, Acid House Kings
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