Release Date: Jun 5, 2012
Record label: Labrador
It was only a matter of time before Sweden’s glorious pop scene led to a new generation of artists who had grown up listening to the likes of Robyn, José González, Club 8, and Lykke Li. Seventeen-year-old Amanda Mair’s self-titled debut suggests that such next-gen acts are poised to put the powerful influences of their fellow countrymen to inspired use. A gifted musician and thoughtful singer, Mair and her collaborators, who include Acid House Kings’ Johan Angergård and songwriter Roger Gunarsson, project a real sense of confidence in their craft, producing a collection of songs that are far better than what Robyn was singing as a teenager.
On her debut self-titled album for Labrador, 17-year-old Amanda Mair had the fortune of working with some of the biggest guns in the Swedish indie pop world. Label head Johan Angergård (of Acid House Kings and Club 8) wrote most of the songs, Philip Ekström (of the Mary Onettes) produced and played most of the instruments, and indie icons Pelle Carlberg and Roger Gunnarsson (who wrote songs for Sally Shapiro) also contributed a song each. They all worked together to build such a strong framework that it would have been almost impossible for Mair to fail.
Seventeen-year-old Amanda Mair is Swedish, so we can take it as read that she has the pop gene – specifically, the strand that expresses itself as frothy melancholia, a la Robyn and Lykke Li. She's already much blogged-about, perhaps to her detriment: can a teenager who doesn't yet write her own songs live up to comparisons to Kate Bush and Fleetwood Mac? Maybe she will in years to come, but on this debut she's merely a sweet-voiced muse, singing small, pretty songs with aplomb, but not always mastering them. Writer/producer Philip Ekstrom has done good things with arrangements and production, though – with lush electropop as a foundation, he's built each song into a beautifully ornamented little package, employing Bollywood strings here (Said and Done), orchestral pomp there (Sense), with Mair's vocals adding flavouring.
Sometimes it is better to judge a record devoid of other people’s opinions. When you know what everyone else has said about something, rightly or wrongly, it tends to influence your perception. It can’t be helped. Even if you head into an album ‘blind’, context will eventually catch up with you, and your original impressions may be proved incongruous with reality.So, let’s get this ‘Amanda Mair hype’ bit out of the way.