Sambassadeur - Migration
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Along with artists like Loney, Dear and others, Sambassadeur is one of many bands comprising a small explosion of great pop music from Sweden over the course of the past couple years. Whereas their first few releases were home-cooked affairs, Migration finds them going into the studio with producer Mattias Glavå (Dungen and others). Their slightly rough past edges are all smoothed away here, leaving an effervescent pop album full of breathy vocals and pretty orchestration that serves the songs well.

Slightly informed by 80s synth pop groups, several tracks on Migration sound like they could have been pulled out of a John Hughes film, as keyboard sounds bordering on cheesy mingle with nice guitar work and warm vocals all bathed in a luxurious reverb. One of these songs is "Subtle Changes," the galloping second song that layers in orchestrated strings, synths, and heart-tugging choruses that seem to conjure spring-like weather out of thin air. You can almost envision a teenage John Cusack fake-playing the saxophone solo when it arrives about two-thirds of the way through.

After the slightly synth and disco-laced early tracks, the middle of the album calms down a bit with "Falling In Love" and the album-titled "Migration" and the group shifts gears ever-so-slightly, pulling in some Western and 50s pop influences that again find them coaxing out slightly different instrumentation (with more of a focus on guitars). The latter portion of the release doesn't hold up quite as well (other than the amazing "Something To Keep"), and it's really hard to put a finger on why. "Someday We're Through" features male lead vocals, and while they don't bring the song down by themselves, musically the simple track just doesn't have the same level of melodic development that others on the release do. In the end, it doesn't quite sustain the momentum of the early going, but it's still a fun and sunny release that will likely appeal to fans of breezy pop. Viva la Sweden.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2008-01-31 20:04:52