Release Date: May 21, 2013
Record label: Labrador
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop, Swedish Pop/Rock
After having spent most of their long career making records that hovered between peacefully relaxed and melancholically chilly, with the occasional detour into Northern soul or trip-hop, Club 8 broke out of that mode on 2010's The People's Record, where they successfully incorporated a great deal of late-'60s/early-'70s West African pop into their indie pop sound. It was a game-changing move by the band's musical half, Johan Angergård, and it worked wonderfully, showing that the band's trademarks (Karolina Komstedt's richly expressive vocals, Angergård's deft productions kills, and his knack for writing hook-filled melodies) came through just as brightly even when the surroundings shifted. On 2013's Above the City, the duo stretch the boundaries of their sound some more, still without losing the innate Club 8-ness that makes their records so enchanting.
A Complete History of Popular Music was the cheeky subtitle of a 2007 label compilation by Sweden's Labrador. Now eight albums deep, Labrador mainstay Club 8's unassumingly rewarding discography tells its own version of indie pop's history over the past 15-plus years. The duo of composer-instrumentalist Johan Angergård and wispy-voiced singer Karolina Komstedt has cycled through aspects of bedsit pop, hi-NRG chic, trip-hop noir, and quiet-is-the-new-loud bossa nova, eventually encompassing many of those within a tender, nuanced take on acoustic pop-- and that's not mentioning the pair's prior work with the twee-leaning Poprace, or Angergård's ongoing roles in the noisier Legends and lushly orchestrated Acid House Kings.
Club 8 started out as a twee-pop outfit before gradually obscuring and veering towards electronics. On the duo’s eighth outing, Above the City, the electro-pop sound is very ‘now,’ but the Scandinavian indie-pop roots lend it distinctiveness thanks in part to Karolina Komstedt’s saccharine vocals. .
It has to be said that Labrador Records founder and Club 8 member Johan Angergård has an ear for taking the twee melancholia that bleeds from his homeland of Sweden and finding bands that offer intriguing, gorgeous filters through which to pour this anguish. Be it the shoegaze indie of the Radio Dept, the Belle & Sebastian-influenced story-telling of the Acid House Kings (to which Johan also contributes) or, in this case, the Robyn strutting electro pop of Club 8, anyone with a hungry heart must surely have held hands with a Labrador release at some point. But this is not a one-trick stable or a Robyn homage, not at all.
Karolina Komstedt and Johan Angergård’s last album, 2010’s The People’s Record, was a mini masterpiece of “We’re all doomed….aah screw it LET’S PARTY!” cocktails n’ calypso, end-of-the-universe conga abandon. So perhaps fittingly “Kill! Kill! Kill!” opens Club 8’s eighth with a funeral. A ruby red, bleak house hybrid of the Smiths’ “Meat Is Murder” and Julee Cruise’s “Falling”.
By the time most bands get to their eighth album, they're recycling old ideas, but at least Club 8 have the good sense to do it with a certain amount of style. Above The City harkens back to their earlier days, when life was simpler and they leaned more towards the electronic realm. The music sounds deliberately dated, in part because it was produced using older software.