As the saying goes, it’s impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him. This is especially true when the Englishman speaking is in a post-1998 rock band. So I have to look overseas for my kicks. And Sweden is always a good bet. Take Levande Död - I have no idea what mainman Erik Lahti is singing about and you know what, it means I can RELAX. (Happiest Place, the label putting out Upp Til Kramp, posit Lahti as some kind of lyrical genius - and though I lack the apparatus to be able know if this is true or not, I believe them. Because his DICTION is great. Don't laugh! It's more than half the battle.)
Was trying to think for ages what the album, especially Side 1, reminds me of, and it's the Go-Betweens...the songwriting, the zig-zagging understated guitar heroics, the acerbic edge-of-flatness vocals (which sound like a more unhinged, and, er, considerably more Swedish, Robert Forster), the effortless blurring of hot-blooded rock’n’roll expressionism with post-punk poise and detachment.. yeah! This is the stuff. Fans of The Servants and Felt will feel right at home as well. I guess ALL these bands have their roots in Television-worship and there is NOTHING wrong with that. It’s a crowded field, though, and for a band to make a record of this ilk in 2019 that passes muster the tunes and performance and production have to be nigh-on faultless, and above all (whether or not you understand the lyrics) they have to make you believe they're not just a bunch of cunts. Guess what - the Död gone done it!
Yeah them SONGS....repetitive, stripped-down, but hook-laden and with an ear for disembowelling minor chord shifts, the first side is more chewy, more rock, the second side more minimalist and experimental, approaching the kinda dubbed-out new wave nailed by Monokultur on their recent self-titled barn-burner for FFFM. Gleaming boy-girl duet 'Kristaller och knogjarn' sounds like some perfect Japanese post-punk oneaway soon to be reissued by Bitter Lake. There's a pretty louche, nonchalant, smacked- or eccied-out feel to the whole thing - but the tone is never particularly gloomy or despairing, this is really one of those records you stick on to improve your mood, not worsen it. Music for the bleary low-achieving in-between days that constitute 95.5% of your waking life.
In the space of a few weeks it’s gone from being a record that sounded, you know, good, to feeling like a TALISMAN, something to help ward off the forces of darkness and drudgery we all must. Makings of a classic! At least until I learn Swedish.