Andreas Kleerup's first album as a solo artist/producer bears the mixed blessing of having had its lead single and standout track become a sizable international hit...for another artist. "With Every Heartbeat," known to U.K. listeners as a chart-conquering comeback smash for the highly deserving Robyn, was initially presented in Sweden as Kleerup's debut single, nearly a year and a half before the album's eventual release.
Before you waste any more precious eyeball moisture on this record review, stop and look at that face. Framed by stringy, grunge-rock hair, it's the face of Stockholm's Andreas Kleerup, already one of the most internationally successful players involved in Sweden's current reign as global pop incubator. Perhaps unlike, say, Robyn, Peter Bjorn and John, ex-Concretes singer Victoria Bergsman, or Jens Lekman, you probably don't recognize him-- by name or by face.
Andreas Kleerup is best known for producing the smash hit With Every Heartbeat for fellow Swede Robyn. Recorded in rehab deep in a Swedish forest, his debut solo album is the antithesis of the fractured, crepuscular sound prevalent in much of contemporary dance music. It's a much cleaner, subtle, more uplifting sound, but one which, ultimately, is a little devoid of personality.
If pop music history was just and fair (which it isn’t), then Robyn’s self-titled 2008 album (available internationally for years prior) will go down as one of the finest albums of the new millennium. Doing what Madonna so desperately wanted to do with her latest glut of club-oriented releases, Robyn mixes confessional lyrics with sassy club beats, putting up a tough girl front before tearing it down right before our very ears, all while the ample and dexterous production work of the Teddybears, the Knife, and Kleerup dance around her, adding up to make one of the most remarkable pop discs in recent memory. The album is an incredible achievement that’s made all the more commendable given that Robyn—a former anonymous teen-pop starlet—began fighting her label for control of the songs she sang and the producers she picked, eventually breaking off with her massive label conglomerate before forming her own imprint (Konichiwa Records) to release Robyn, scoring a UK #1 with the gorgeous synth-ballad “With Every Heartbeat” in the process—the ultimate “fuck you” to the major label handlers who tried to control her for so many years.