Lollo Manford – Dancing Out In Space

Tim: Lollo herself sends this our way, telling us that “it’s a melody-based, space-themed pop song, written by me; Lollo Manford, a Swedish pop artist and songwriter.”

Tim: And oh, I hate being critical when artists send in their own stuff, but presumably she’s up for it: this is sort of okay.

Adam: I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings! I feel bad enough not knowing if the artist will read this but I know this will. I’ll try and go easy on you Lollo!

Tim: The melody, I can cope with. It’s good enough. The production: not bad.

Adam: I think the underlying songwriting is actually very positive. The production sounds a little dated to me. I think if the instrumentation was switched up a bit this would be a much more attractive to listeners.

Tim: See, I’m fine with the instrumentation. But the lyrics? Oh, Lollo, no. I’m sorry, but that chorus just sounds like you’ve got one line you like in one hand and a rhyming dictionary in the other. “Stars right in my face,” that sounds okay. But the other two. “Dressed only in lace” is, let’s be honest, about as clunky as you can get. And “Singing my own phrase”? Sorry love, but someone’s already taken it.

Adam: I’ve been writing music and lyrics for around ten years and I’m still rubbish at it! It takes a lot of work like everything else. Is English Lollo’s primary language? I think she can be forgiven if it isn’t. Just keep working at it and in the future Tim won’t be so mean. Or maybe he will – haters gonna hate, right?

Tim: No, I’ll always be complimentary when I can – though somewhat contradicting that, the less said about that lyric video the better, really. A piece of advice for the future: don’t just take Windows Movie Maker and go through the effects one at a time.

Adam: Yeah… The music video isn’t great. I think the most important thing though is that it’s a good song, it just requires a bit more finesse.

Tim: I’ll try to finish on a positive – the music, I would listen to again. As an instrumental or with other lyrics, because there’s nothing wrong with the vocal. But find a lyricist, or a bigger rhyming dictionary.

Adam: This is the last time I’ll be reviewing tracks on this blog for the time being since Tom is back from the Arctic Circle. I hope you’ve all enjoyed my words and I haven’t been too negative! I’m glad I could end my time here writing something positive. Maybe in the future you’ll see me around again?

Tim: Hmm…if you’re very well behaved.

Volbeat feat. Johan Olsen – For Evigt

“This song just confuses me no end.”

Tim: Unusual for a number of reasons, this, not least that it’s metal and we’re normally some form of pop, but then what’s life without a bit of variety every now and again?

Adam: Oh how exciting!

Tim: Volbeat are Danish, been going about 15 years, while Johan is the lead singer of another Danish metal band, Magtens Korridorer (or, in English, The Corridors of Power). So with the intros done, here’s the song, and please don’t read ahead until it’s all played out – you’ll see why.

Tim: Two languages in a track – different, but no biggie. A weird “pre-chorus/wait this instrumental sounds like a post-chorus was that the chorus?/oh no wait this Danish bit is the chorus” structure format – a bit more unusual and a tad unsettling, but we’ve heard stranger.

Adam: Now that description would really pique my interest but having heard the track I’m afraid heavy metal and rockabilly fused together isn’t really doing it for me.

Tim: No. A banjo in a hefty rock song? That just doesn’t sit right with me at all, particularly because yet again we’re losing half the beats.

Adam: I actually quite like the banjo breakdown. I think this is another example of two ideas being squashed together needlessly. I think a shorter but full on heavy song would’ve worked better or have the whole track stripped back like in the breakdown.

Tim: Then the song drops dead and fades back in, the banjo’s nowhere to be seen and we’re back in full on thrashing around mode.

Adam: Yeah the whole track does feel to me like it’s stopping and starting throughout. There were certainly some strange choices made in the writing process.

Tim: In essence, this song just confuses me no end, it really does.

Adam: I feel a bit let down. Although it may proclaim to be another genre, I would still call this pop at the end of the day.

Tim: Oh, mate, just no.

Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Never Ever

“Where have I heard that backing synth sample before?”

Tim: ‘Poor Leno’ hitmakers Röyksopp have teamed up with the also-Norwegian Susanne for the lead single of their upcoming album; it’s not half bad.

Adam: This seems like a bit of a departure for Röyksopp which, judging by the YouTube comments, is not appreciated by all their fans.

Tim: Yeah – it’s quite a lot more mainstream dance-pop than previous outings. In fact, it’s a perfectly decent track to launch a dance-pop album off.

Adam: Röyksopp have stated in a recent press release that they no longer wish to work within the confines of the traditional album format. So probably no dance-pop album coming for you. Maybe you’ll get some singles of a similar nature though?

Tim: Maybe. But Adam. Adam, Adam, Adam. I need your help, because where have I heard that backing synth sample before?

Adam: I’m getting a very distinct disco and funk vibe from the whole track…

Tim: It’s not completely recognisable until that first beat at 0:12 kicks in, and then AAAARGH. It was a dance track, and I’m fairly sure it was successful in Britain, so please tell me you can place it.

Adam: It reminds me a lot of Get Lucky by Daft Punk. Is that what you’re thinking of?

Tim: No, it’s no a stylistic one, just that single two-bard loop. But really, Get Lucky?

Adam: Perhaps similarities between that track and this one is what is turning some fans off. This whole ditching the album for a purely single based approach is something I’ve seen many bands discuss in the past but never fully follow through with. The beauty of it is that nowadays you such quick feedback from fans on what works and what doesn’t.

Tim: I guess so. Though you could also take that as not having the confidence to set out exactly what you want to do in advance.

Adam: I guess we’ll have to see if new musical and creative approaches for Röyksopp pays off.

Saturday Flashback: A Silent Film – Danny, Dakota & the Wishing Well

“It starts out quite promising…”

Tim: Not the first time where I’ve had trouble working out which is the artist and which is the title; definitely the first time where my initial guess was completey wrong and I had to check several times.

Adam: Danny, Dakota & the Wishing Well would be a good name for a twee folk band!

Tim: Well quite, but here we are definitely the other way round. This is from 2012, and was sent in this week by reader Drake; he says it is European (well, Oxford), it is pop (though they describe themselves as indie), and it is very good (definitely).

Adam: This immediately makes me think of Snow Patrol. Which isn’t a good thing.

Tim: Really? I don’t get that at all. The band are currently a duo, though have had up to four members previously, and this was released as a trio and now I’m bored of admin. It’s hard to disagree with any of the three adjectives we’re offered.

Adam: Considering a lot of what gives this song it’s character is the accompanying strings I don’t think it really matters how many people are in the band.

Tim: The first minute offers something very different from what comes later, and much as I was looking forward to hearing the initial genre jump forth, what replaces it is not remotely disappointing.

Adam: I think quite the opposite. It starts out quite promising and loses it with all the bombast. I’ve got to remember that this came out 4 years ago. Musical trends change so maybe the intro would’ve made this track special in 2012 but the rest of the track just sounds a bit dated to me.

Tim: Oh, shame – I’m fine with it. In one respect, it reminds me of when The Killers went electro. Not a mixture you’d initially think would work, but actually ends up sounding very good indeed.

Adam: Oh wow I’ve never heard that Killers track before. It’s so much better than this. It has some soul to it.

Tim: Ah, but is it a soldier?

I Grow Paper Wings – Run

“I’ve been having such a great time listening to it.”

Tim: As September drags on and Tesco begins to run out of pineapples, it seems that tropical house may be drying up, for the time being at least. Given this, and the fact that this track is more than worthy of kicking any special feature out of its way, let’s skip a tropical Friday this week, and have this.

Adam: Wow, that might be my favourite track I’ve listened to so far while helping out around here.

Tim: Hooray! Because I too think it’s one of the best tracks. Beautiful dreamy synthy pop from an act who’s otherwise known as Jenny Gustafsson.

Adam: I had a little listen through the other songs on her Soundcloud profile and it’s all rather euphoric.

Tim: The best type of music, really. I think one of the things I like most of it is the lack of your standard structure to it. I know I complained not long ago when a song messed around with it, but here it’s done so…playfully is the word that springs to mind, that here I’m not bothered by it.

Adam: You just can’t make your mind up can you? It also features a half time breakdown that you didn’t like when it was utilised in another track we listened to recently.

Tim: Yeah, but there it was back and forth in the chorus, while here it’s in the middle eight, or what passes for one, where everything’s expected to be stirred around, and it works so well as part of that, and with everything else that’s happening it just seems to fit. That carries over to the lyrics – it is just one batch repeated a few times, but the production underneath is so lovely and enjoyable that I have no problems forgiving it.

Adam: I’ve been having such a great time listening to the track that I haven’t really payed that much attention to the lyrics. Perhaps her lyrics are something that she can work on. If you have a read through her website you can see she aspires to make music with meaning. Actually I think she thinks she is accomplishing that already, at least for herself.

Tim: Then good for her. And good for us as well, when it sounds this excellent.

Joshua Radin & Måns Zelmerlöw – Belong

“Oh Måns, why must you abandon us?“

Tim: Second track with Måns singing in just a few days, and I think it’s time to accept the depressing truth: Måns has moved on to guitar pop.

Adam: What’s depressing about guitar pop?! It’s great! First you insult Ukuleles, now this…

Tim: Oh, nothing wrong with guitar pop per se – it’s just frequently very dull, and nowhere near as reliably enjoyable as dance pop typically is. But there are exceptions. Let’s see.

Tim: Because I guess he does at least have strong vocal talents, and it’s nice that they’re not being wasted.

Adam: I’m a fan of a few of Joshua Radin’s songs after they were featured in a couple of Scrubs episodes! He’s a bit of a guilty pleasure to be honest with you. 

Tim: Oh, you said the GP phrase, and that’s definitely an argument we’ll have to have later, probably in a sound-proofed room so we don’t deafen the neighbours. But I’m guessing the general premise here is that Joshua’s stuff wasn’t selling too well, so he called in a favour, or maybe just asked nicely, and got Måns to re-record the second chorus.

Adam: Apparently Joshua Radin’s second album got to ninth in the U.K. album charts and he’s done pretty well at home in America so he’s bigger than even I thought he was. Maybe it’s more Josh helping Måns out here? I’m so out of the loop though so maybe Måns is bigger than I think too. 

Tim: Mate, he won Eurovision with one of the best winners in years. Maybe he wants America, Josh wants Europe, I don’t know. So far, so standard; indeed, standard all over really. Like Tuesday’s it’s very listenable, well produced, and nothing really to complain about.

Adam: I actually quite enjoy it!

Tim: Enjoyable, maybe, but again, nothing to get excited about either. Oh Måns, why must you abandon us?

Eight Bit Tiger – Forever

“It kinda reminded me of a TV intro?”

Tim: So here’s a tale for the digital age: two Swedish brothers, Erik and Kent Widman, grew up in Stockholm then moved to Chicago as teenagers. A few years on, Erik’s back in Stockholm and they’re showing that “making a great album is no longer constrained to physical proximity, but can be accomplished in the cloud.”

Tim: So, synth bits get sent back and forth, vocals are recorded, and eventually something worth listening to comes out of it. The aural equivalent of this blog, really.

Adam: It worked in a similar fashion back in 2003 for The Postal Service and resulted in the release of one of, in my opinion, the greatest albums of the 21st century!

Tim: Huh, did not know that. So is this as good, and is it anything more than just a gimmick?

Adam: Nowadays it’s so easy to collaborate via the internet that I’d say this isn’t even that big a deal. 

Tim: You’re probably right, and not even I’m enough of a cynic to think they’re wanging on about it purely done to grab attention. It’s nice that they want to keep making music, although, well. Let’s face it: this is a bit dull.

Adam: It left me wanting more. It kinda reminded me of a TV intro? It’s catchy but it doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere. 

Tim: More or less my thoughts – for the first minute or so it’s fine, but damn, does that four bar loop get old very, very quickly. I don’t know what the thinking was behind making this four and a half minutes long, but this could have been chopped at the three minute mark and would have lost nothing at all.

Adam: It does get a tad repetitive. I zoned out the first time I was listening to it and thought I had the track on repeat. 

Tim: Basic message, then: sounds good, but know when to stop.

Isak Danielson – Remember

“Bit like New Labour and Iraq, really.”

Tim: A young Swede here with beautiful (but quite girly) hair, who seems to be channelling Morrissey, but please don’t let that put you off.

Tim: Standard story: wonderful relationship, A does something stupid, B gets upset, A stands there looking gormless, B runs away, A begs B to remember the good times, hoping for forgiveness. Bit like New Labour and Iraq, really. A miserable tune, it’s true, and yes, there’s quite a bit of work required to get through it – to be honest, if I wasn’t paying attention to the video I’d probably have got bored halfway through and given up. On the other hand, if I had given up, I’d have missed out on that lovely build that bubbles up through the middle eight – miserable it might be, but that’s a stunner of an ending.

Måns Zelmerlöw – Hanging On To Nothing

“It’s good enough, but that’s about all.”

Tim: The latest offering from Eurovision victor Måns, and to be honest I didn’t think all that much of it when I first heard it a week or so ago; however, reader Sam sent it in, with plenty of praise for it, so let’s have another go. (One moment of strong language, by the way.)

Tim: And, sure, it’s okay. It’s decent enough. I think the problem here is similar to the issue I had with his last one, which is: I don’t think it’s good enough. Or rather, it’s good enough, but that’s about all. There’s no massive memorable chorus, nor beautiful emotional vocal, nor amazing instrumental moment, and most importantly I don’t really really want to hear it again as soon as it’s finished, which I do with all those others. It’s not what I want from Måns, who has such great and catchy hits in his back catalogue that this just seems subpar.

Sam compared it favourably to the recent Olly Murs track we looked at and very much enjoyed, and actually that’s a very decent comparison. The only problem is that a good Olly Murs track is an average Måns track. DAMMIT, Zelmerlöw, why must you have been so impressive earlier on in your career?

Saturday Flashback: The Ark – The Worrying Kind

“Reminds me of Austin Powers”

Tim: So, I had Zara Larsson’s Rooftop all lined up for today as it mentions today’s date in the lyrics, but it turns out we covered it back when it was new, so that’s off the table. Instead, let’s pick a track at random from the ever-reliable Best of Melodifestivalen 1958-2013 album (and that’s not even sarcasm, it’s great). The 2007 victor, which thus went on to represent Sweden at Eurovision, and I hope we’re all in the mood for some glam rock.

Tim: Setting the scene, recall that Finland had won the previous year with Lordi—

Adam: What happened to Lordi? I want them back in my life.

Tim: Oh, no, and anyway now we’re heading into Alice Deejay territory – brilliant, but possibly drifting too far from 2007. Novelty was high on the list: we had Scooch, Ukraine had Verka Seduchka, the winner was…unusual, to say the least.

Adam: Wow that is like the opposite of Lordi. Lordi, Lordi, Lordi. I just like saying Lordi.

Tim: And Sweden had this. What a track, and oh, what a performance – talk about “don’t bore us, get to the chorus”, this is ALL IN right from the start.

Adam: When it comes to 3 minute pop songs it’s best to just jump straight in.

Tim: Structurally it’s unusual – mini-chorus, verse, chorus, repeated verse, chorus – but for me at least that doesn’t harm it at all.

Adam: The rotating stage reminds me of Austin Powers. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Tim: Well, I can’t help feeling it might not have helped – it fit fine with the look they were going for, and yet on the night it disgracefully (and well against the bookies’ odds) only came 18th out of 24. DAMMIT Europe, what’s the matter with you?

Adam: Yeah screw you Europe! (Please take us back…)

Tim: This song is EXCELLENT, and really should have done so well. Bloody Serbia.