Xander – Ka Ikk Holde Mig Væk

“While someone’s doing metalwork next door.”

Tim: Or, in English, ‘Don’t Hold Me Away’. Xander’s 29 and from Copenhagen, and hasn’t had a hit single since his debut, 2010’s Det burde ikk være sådan her. Here’s his latest, though, so see what you think.

Tom: That is a very… R&B choice for you. Particularly given there appears to be a bloke hammering metal on an anvil somewhere to the right of wherever they recorded the song.

Tim: You what? Look, you may be interpreting that title, given the calm, pleasant and fairly gentle style of music, as a nice message, at a relationship level – a sort of “I love you, we’ve known each other a while, please let’s be together”. Well, I’d like to immediately disabuse you of this notion, because the first line doesn’t mess about: “Take my hand, take your clothes off”. IT’S ALL ABOUT DOING IT.

Tom: While someone’s doing metalwork next door.

Tim: Just…what?

Tom: Sorry to bang on about it, but I actually couldn’t listen to this, that anvil sound grated so much. I had to listen just through my left headphone, where the sound’s still present, just a lot quieter. How did you not notice that?

Tim: Oh…oh GOD why would you point that out to me? I’d not heard that as a thing, but now I can’t unhear it. But I will – MUST – get through this. Because despite that (a consideration made easier by the facts that (a) I don’t speak Danish, and (b) I don’t have to see him looking like a bellend with the cap and sunglasses if I’m just listening), I still like this. That’s largely because of the aforementioned calm, pleasant and fairly gentle style of music.

Tom: DINK. DINK. DINK. DINK. THAT IS NOT CALM AND PLEASANT.

Tim: YES IT IS. It’s chilled out synth work with a good hook and relaxed vocals, and when done perfectly those are ingredients for an excellent song. Here they’re done fairly well, so I’ll happily take this, ignoring the fact that you’ve slightly ruined it for me.

The Main Level feat. Blvck O – Bombadilla

“A lot less mindless garbage spewing than I’d expected.”

Tim: We’ve written about these guys a few times before, mostly pointing how they’re following the exact standard boyband career progression. Right now, for a hot and sunny summer: a tropical flavoured song with a guest artist to fit the mood.

Tim: And…yeah, it’s perfectly decent.

Tom: The intro vaguely reminded me of a lot of mid-90s pop, so I was vaguely hoping that, rather than your standard rap middle eight, “feat. Blvck O” might be a new Bubbler Ranx (now running his own music production company, it seems). Not quite, but closer than anyone else has managed in a while.

Tim: That’s true, yes – there was a lot less mindless garbage spewing than I’d expected.

Tom: Got to admit, though, the farting car engine got more of a reaction from me (a smile) than the actual chorus synths (nothing at all). This is at least a competent boyband track — and, arguably, it’s doing a good job of updating that mid-90s pop sound.

Tim: Until I heard this song I had no idea whatsoever what a bombadilla life might be, and to be honest I still don’t—hell, even Google Translate doesn’t recognise it and that has all the words in the world—but assuming it’s what the context makes it out to be, a girl living one sounds fairly fun and I can understand why they’d want to sing a song about her (though quite why he’s off with her sister is anyone’s guess).

Tom: Maybe she got sick of all his ludicrous dancing in fields?

Tim: Now you mention it, that would make perfect sense. I like this song a lot – there may not be that much original in it, but it takes the enthusiasm from the bombadillaness and keeps it up, and now I want to be living a bombadilla life as well. Where can I do this please, does anybody know?

Be The Bear – Erupt

“It keeps telegraphing changes that just don’t happen.”

Tom: The title of this post seems like a bizarre motivational slogan. Be the bear! Erupt! Ahem. Anyway.

Tim: Slight warning: it took me quite a while to be sure I wasn’t watching a John Lewis Christmas advert. But then it became obvious.

Tom: You know, I’ve never actually seen a John Lewis Christmas advert.

Tim: What?

Tom: But I know what you mean, here, at least.

Tim: Her actual name’s Christina and she’s off Gothenberg, but never mind that because that first chorus really is unusual, and a tad “oop, you broke the song”.

Tom: It surprised me, but I don’t think it full-on broke the song: either that, or I’m getting more used to changes of chorus like that.

Tim: I don’t say that because “aaagh, it’s different, blegh” (although that doesn’t help), but largely because of that build that comes up right at the very end. What with most pop now bringing along two full choruses, a vocal and an instrumental, it really did seem as though we were leading into a second half. As it is, straight back to second verse brings us way out. I get what it’s trying to do – sound unusual, stick out – I just don’t think it works quite as well as it ought to.

Tom: It’s almost like the “body language” of the song is a little off: it keeps telegraphing changes in momentum and instrumentation that just don’t happen. I wonder how much of that’s due to me expecting “normal” pop music — like a John Lewis Christmas advert — and how much is just because it is, genuinely, a bit off.

Tim: Quite possibly a bit of both. BUT, having said all that: everything after that is lovely. The build works throughout when the next chorus goes in the the rest of it, and the strings that gradually appear sound all sorts of lovely. So start me at 1:23, I’m laughing.

Future Duper feat. Emilie Adams – Didn’t Feel A Thing

“This time next week I could hear it again and have no memory of it whatsoever. “

Tim: So I reckon I know exactly how this review is going to go, but I’ll put it forth anyway.

Tom: Here’s what I said the last time we talked about Future Duper: “I think it’ll take a few listens — or, rather, a few tracks like this — before I can actually get the hang of this. Right now, it sounds like a rather more experimental genre than it should.”

Tom: So is this a more mainstream track, or have I got used to them?

Tim: Oh no, it’s a lot more mainstream, don’t worry about that. And you see I think it’s an entirely adequate dance-pop tune. The melody is fine, decent vocals, and while the lyrics are a little off (made more so, curiously, by the decision to include the repetition in the lyric video) I’m happy to forgive that because it’s got a decent enough donk on it that I will jump around to it with no real problem.

Tom: Hold up. A donk is a very specific sound. This does not have a donk on it.

Tim: Interesting you say that, because I’ve always though of a donk as just something that makes a song more exciting – most recently, I discussed the 2005 Doctor Who theme tune getting a donk added on for Christmas 2007 onwards. Let’s leave the precise terminology aside, then, and say: I am happy with it. You, meanwhile, will likely agree that it’s adequate, but also point out that it is largely forgettable, and that this time next week I could hear it again and have no memory of it whatsoever.

Tom: I’m starting to think this might not be the job for me, Tim.

Tim: Roughly right?

Tom: Yep. Same pieces, just in a slightly different order. Which is true of most pop music, to be fair; I just wonder if I’m burned out somehow? I’m sure there are wonderful things around somewhere — I’m just not hearing them.

Saturday Flashback: Jonas Lundqvist – Pengar på fickan

“I guess I’m unimpressed and ambivalent.”

Tim: This got sent in by our reader Gavi, who thinks that “the Tim will love it”, and I couldn’t possibly ignore that.

Tom: And the Tom, as always, will be generally unimpressed and ambivalent, as the Tom is with 99% of music.

Tim: The perfect man to write a music blog, then.

Tim: Hmm, although actually…well, I suppose it’s alright.

Tom: I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to see young Wallace Shaun smoking in the back of a car as part of a modern music video, so there’s that. But apart from that? I guess I’m unimpressed and ambivalent.

Tim: It’s about a guy who has all the belongings he needs but no-one to share it with, and now I know that I’m trying my hardest not to feel slightly offended, however close to home that may cut.

Tom: I don’t know, that sounds pretty good. I means you don’t have to share your stuff.

Tim: Fair point, I guess. And it’s a decent enough track – energy, production, vocals, can’t really fault them – but love it? Not quite that far.

Tom: Also, I’m fairly sure he’s singing “I’m a duffer” repeatedly.

Swedum – Summer State Of Mind

“It’s the background music that appears in a TV show when they can’t license an actual track.”

Tim: Not sure why the name is as it is, but never mind – they’re a production duo off Stockholm, and have this as their debut. As the title suggests, it’s quite summery.

Tom: Take away those vaguely-tropical-house patches — which are only used a small amount — and what you’re left with are some very early-2000s synths. I don’t think that’s a compliment.

Tim: Tropical sounds, seasonal lyrics, sun and sand and beautiful sea in the video – I’d call it clichéd, but that implies laziness, whereas this is quite clearly deliberately aiming to go as deep in as possible. And does it work? Well, sort of – it may be deliberate, but the upshot is still that it sounds like as generic a summer track as can possibly exist.

Tom: Right! This is like stock music. It’s the background music that appears in a TV show when they can’t license an actual track. The video doesn’t help with that — it looks like it’s got the same kind of low-effort licensed stock footage in it.

Tim: You know I thought that as well – but it can’t just be stock footage, can it? Either way, it’s a good thing in terms of fitting in well on a playlist or in a DJ mix, perhaps, but as far as launching with an iconic track that no-one will ever forget, this is way off. I’ll listen to it on a playlist, but I’d say that as a debut single this is horribly misjudged. A shame, because there’s potential here. So here’s to track two, and maybe brushing this one under the rug.

Bella & Filippa – I Think Of Yesterday

“Lovely”, although I’m not sure I’m using that as a compliment.

Tim: You may remember this pair from Melodifestivalen this year with their jaunty guitar strumming Crucified; here’s a follow up.

Tim: And similar to yesterday, it’s a slightly negative track but with almost nauseatingly chirpy music.

Tom: “Lovely”. That’s the word that came to mind. Although I’m not sure I’m using it as a compliment.

Tim: To be honest, I think if I wasn’t writing this while in bright sunlight, in a good mood after a pleasant weekend spent with a bouncy castle—

Tom: I don’t want to know what you get up to you in your private life.

Tim: IT WAS A PARTY—I might be throwing stuff at the screen while yelling “he’s dumped you, get over it”, and now I’m on my third time of hearing it I’m close to doing that even now.

Tom: Mm. There’s a really good two-part middle eight here, but not much of a verse or chorus — certainly nothing I can remember afterwards. There’s nothing objectively wrong with it, but yes, I can see why it’d annoy you after a while.

Tim: I’ll keep this short, then, before it goes round again, and just say: I like it, but only as long as I’m in the right mood for it. Otherwise it can properly do one.

Södra Station – 16

“Are orange parties a thing in Sweden?”

Tim: First one off a new EP from Sara, Niro & Fredrik, with a basic lyrical vibe of “we’re not 16 any more” (the members are 24), and from the look of it Sara’s not particularly enjoying that.

Tim: It’s tricky, that, because the video is vastly more interesting, and attention grabbing, than the song.

Tom: Huh. For me, this track has one of the most promising builds I’ve heard in a while — but that’s because I had it in a background tab. The video’s distracting, and I think the song’s so much better without it. Let’s be honest, I didn’t need to see orange-juice-vomit.

Tim: I’ll confess that, until he crawled into the washing machine, my biggest focus was on whether or not her head would at some point turn into an orange.

Tom: Are orange parties a thing in Sweden? Because that’s a weird party. Anyway.

Tim: It’s a nice track, though, and I like it, as despite the negative impressions and intention, it’s a chirpy number. I recognise the feeling, and the sense of “wait, I’m not really going to be having fun like that at all again, am I?”, but the song also brings a “yes, we’re growing up now, but we can make the best of life and still have other fun” sensation. And I’ll take that in a track. Light philosophy, with an optimistic outlook.

Christie & The Dream Beats – My Boyfriend’s Clothes

“How is a song with chirpy whistling and a vocoder charming?”

Tom: Or, sometimes, “Dream Beats and Christie”. Looks like they’ve settled on the more traditional arrangement, though.

Tim: Yes, and we had a lot of time for this band’s previous track, Wasn’t My Fault, and it’s still on my go to playlist for a pickup track. Here’s their current track.

Tom: How is a song with chirpy whistling and a vocoder charming? I know it’s a subtle vocoder, but still, that’s not meant to be possible.

Tim: And it’s a song like Tuesday’s Ace Wilder track: I like it, it’s good, but damn I wish I could get past trying to remember what song it is that it reminds me of. It’s from the very first vocal line “you should be getting on your plane” except the note for plane jumps up much higher in the song I’m thinking of but ANYWAY.

Tom: One of the choruses from Gwen Stefani’s What You Waiting For? The hook of Nelly’s Dilemma, on the way into the middle eight?

Tim: No, neither of those. But where were we? Oh, yeah, it’s a good track. Doesn’t quite hit the heights of the previous, but it’ll do for a summery whistly track. I particularly like the vocal part of the chorus, with its business-like atmosphere, “this is what I do, I don’t care what you think”. All in all, and particularly if I can get over the soundalike, not bad.

Tom: I mean, it’s not “Wasn’t My Fault”, but I think it’ll be a long time before I hear a big track like that.

Tim: I would like an album from these folk at some point, though.

Ace Wilder – Dansa i Neon

“Takes a song off a while back, and brings it very, very up to date.”

Tim: Speaking of covers, as we were yesterday, here’s one of a song that Lena Philipsson put in a fairly decent showing with at Melodifestivalen 1987. We had a look at it when it was redone in 2011 as something slightly different, but here’s Ace’s cover of it.

Tim: And that’s a good cover. Takes a song off a while back, and brings it very, very up to date – sounds remarkably modern, with all the vocal sample effects and soft dance beats, though still maintaining enough of the original so that devotees won’t hate it.

Tom: Yep – it sounds, to me, a bit like that Thomas Anders track from a couple of weeks back: old sensibilities, old melody, new production.

Tim: The annoying thing for me, though, is that it sounds familiar. And I don’t think it’s from hearing the original, because I’ve not listened to it that often.

Tom: Remember Modern Talking, that band that Thomas Anders was half of? For me, I keep hearing You’re My Heart. It’s not close, but it’s close enough. For you?

Tim: No. I can be more specific: it’s that descending melody in the middle eight, and it sounds in my head like it might have come from something like a Corrs song – definitely female fronted, but other than that I can’t for the life of me place it. OH WELL, good cover nonetheless.