Release Date: Feb 4, 2014
Record label: Modular Recordings
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Club/Dance, Indie Electronic, Alternative Dance
Eric Berglund’s power of provocation will never be questioned. Although having graduated from baseball-bat-wielding electro duo The Tough Alliance to making solo music as ceo, the Swedish musician spent his 2010 debut album alternating between a sneer and smirk. While Berglund still seems intent on taking a sideways swipe at pop culture, his sophomore album Wonderland is full of elegant contradictions, bridging the gap between bratty and Balearic.
On his second album, Wonderland, CEO (a.k.a. Swedish pop craftsman Eric Berglund) pursues a colorful vision that inhabits a space somewhere between MGMT's jungle-boogie psychedelia and Sufjan Stevens's heart-on-sleeve, tie-dyed pageantry. In delivering this loosely jointed acid dream, Berglund has essentially unbuttoned the stiff grandiosity of his debut, shedding heavy-handed treacle like that album's “All Around” for something far more fun and unpredictable.
Wonderland, the second album from ceo, Eric Berglund of the Tough Alliance's solo project, represents no forward progress from 2011's excellent White Magic and heralds no great changes to the sound or outlook. Which is fine, because nothing needed to be changed. At all. The lushly beautiful, inventive, and rich arrangements were pretty much perfect before and remain as such.
Eric Berglund has always conducted business in a very uncompromising, mysterious way. But with his second album under the name CEO (now in uppercase), the former one-half of the Tough Alliance and label owner of Sincerely Yours appears to be less cagey. Just under four years ago he released White Magic, his debut album as ceo (then lowercase), which continued the imaginatively radical dance pop he began with TTA.
Art says what words can't, and trying to explain it can get in the way. Of all the ideas in Eric Berglund's work since his duo the Tough Alliance emerged from Sweden several years ago, those two have been constants. On the title track from TTA's cult-beloved A New Chance, he deployed a fitting line of movie dialogue: "It's not a question of understanding.
Since his band, the Tough Alliance, stopped making music in 2010, Swedish musician Eric Berglund moved on to make sugary, wondrous pop music under the moniker ceo. Introducing his sophomore album, WONDERLAND, with a nearly inscrutable and abstract all-lowercase screed, Berglund promised to make your “head [spin] so much you feel like hopping between neon glowing islands on a quad bike. ” The enigmatic pop mastermind and Sincerely Yours co-founder wasn’t far off, as the resulting record is a technicolor wave of timeless Beatles-esque pop melodies mixed with the experimental spirit of Animal Collective, Mediterranean Balearic beats, and childlike curiosity.
This might yet be CEO’s (Eric Berglund) breakout year, an aesthetic leap up from his previous work with The Tough Alliance and his 2010 debut as ceo (he was lowercase back then), White Magic – the freaky psych-glam visuals that have accompanied this record see him standing out as an artist more than ever. White Magic was pretty, rough around the edges, and an easily forgettable record, but perhaps I didn’t give it enough time: at first much of Wonderland sounds sincere in its prettiness, until you realise what’s lurking beneath it. The album peaks with opening track Whorehouse, which perfectly encapsulates Wonderland's goals.
Four years separate Eric Berglund’s debut solo album ‘White Magic’ and its follow-up, and this timeframe is writ large on ‘Wonderland’. The former Tough Alliance man’s return is heralded by kids’ choirs, Beach Boys vocal harmonies, twinkling Exorcist synths, a song titled in honour of the Japanese art of ritual self-disembowelment (‘Harakiri’) and an opening track where he croons about being “lost inside a whorehouse” that’s as cute as Zoey Deschanel soundtracking Princess Peach from the Super Mario games’ pool party. Alas, his taste for sonic jumble can be overwhelming – see the dayglo Dan Deacon clusterfuck of ‘Ultrakaos’ – but when he pulls things back, as on swoonworthy closer ‘OMG’, he just about justifies his toil.
“I wanted to capture every feeling I’m feeling. I don’t want to focus on anything special, I want it to be a complete picture. Of course I have failed in that sense, as in many others. But whatever you know?”– Eric Berglund on Wonderland Art can be whatever it fucking wants. There’s no ….
There are four things Sweden does astonishingly well: cheap furniture with shockingly awful instructions, piracy, meatballs and beautifully eccentric pop music. Swedish madman Eric Berglund doesn’t make meatballs, infamous websites or tacky furniture, so one can only assume that he makes delightfully strange pop music.Preferring to glisten rather than to outright shine, Berglund’s gorgeously composed pop takes elements from Balearic beat, new-age classical and even an occasional smidge of happy hardcore. From that description alone, it’s got every right to be an utter train wreck.
Eric Berglund, the man behind CEO, is prone to musical flights of fancy. Formerly with his group The Tough Alliance and latterly on his own as CEO since 2010, Berglund has established a reputation as an enigmatic and colourful musician. With all manner of ideas and concepts bouncing around his hyperactive mind, the persona of CEO allows Berglund to drift off on record into his own little fantastical dream world.
opinion byJEAN-LUC MARSH The original Disney adaptation of Alice in Wonderland (1951) remains a nebulous entity in the back of my childhood brain. Regardless of the amount of times I am reminded of its plot, it persists as a pastiche of bright colors, sinister characters, and blurry scenes. Most attempts to recall whatever I once saw yield only bits and pieces of what feels like a distant and disorienting memory.
We’ve endured four long ceo-less years – Eric Berglund’s previous LP, White Magic, came out in 2010 – but the wait’s not been in vain. Returning as marvelous as ever, Berglund is set to detonate Wonderland. The first solid proof that Berglund had indeed returned came in the form of “WHOREHOUSE”, a synthpop charmer bouncier than a spring-loaded kangaroo on a pogo-stick, replete with beats for moving your feet.
Formerly one half of The Tough Alliance and co-founder of Gothenburg, Sweden, label, Sincerely Yours (home of similarly electronic-based pop artists jj and Air France), Eric Berglund now performs solo as CEO, and this is the moniker’s second full-length. Wonderland has the paracosmic themes of Youth Lagoon’s Wondrous Bughouse and the repetitive circles of samples in the style of Panda Bear, but with additional glaring neon lights and amps dials up to eleven. Altogether, it’s some irresistible glitter-on-the dancefloor delirium.