Plumbiferous Media

The People’s Record - Club 8

May 30th 2010
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The People's Record - Club 8Club 8
The People's Record
Score: 78

Club 8, Swedish genre-meld­ing band, has made their way from sim­ple indie pop, to bossa nova, to trip hop. Their newest and 7th album, The Peo­ple’s Record incor­po­rates Afro-pop beats with their indie lean­ings, all in all mak­ing for an extreme­ly inter­est­ing and engag­ing sound. There are some fail­ures on the album, includ­ing a some­times lack­ing mix­ing job, but The Peo­ple’s Record as a whole remains quite strong.

The major­i­ty of The Peo­ple’s Record uses upbeat, active lines that imme­di­ate­ly cap­ture the lis­ten­er’s atten­tion. Their devi­a­tion from pure Afro-pop remains pure­ly with­in the some­how fit­ting elec­tric gui­tar and key­boards. Their only flaws are that they often end up sound­ing quite sim­i­lar (the entire first half of the sec­ond track sounds like the first, but in a dif­fer­ent key, and with a dif­fer­ent mix­ing job) and that they often bury the rel­a­tive­ly light vocals in their dense sound. So as amaz­ing as tracks like “West­ern Hos­pi­tal­i­ty” may be, it’s with great plea­sure that we wel­come tracks like “Danc­ing with the Men­tal­ly Ill.” That track in par­tic­u­lar twists the sound that nor­mal­ly engulfs the album, sub­tly chang­ing the par­tic­u­lar instru­ments, reduc­ing the over­all den­si­ty severe­ly, and chang­ing some of the har­monies. The result is a sig­nif­i­cant­ly dark­er sound that both still resem­bles the more com­mon, entire­ly major tracks, as well as a sig­nif­i­cant­ly more inter­est­ing track (giv­en how unique it is, even just on the album).

Per­haps one of the most inter­est­ing things that Club 8 does is to care­ful­ly mix elec­tron­ic effects and acoustic lean­ings. Ignor­ing the elec­tric gui­tar, synth, and voice, which is more often than not imbued with var­i­ous effects, the more acoustic sounds on the album are, on occa­sion, sub­ject­ed to some one effect or anoth­er, which invari­ably works extreme­ly inter­est­ing­ly. The bor­der between elec­tron­ic and acoustic seems to be Club 8’s favorite loca­tion, and they work with it extreme­ly well.

Lead singer Karoli­na Kom­st­edt’s vocals ring out through The Peo­ple’s Record, giv­ing Club 8’s already strong instru­men­tals an equal­ly rich voice. Kom­st­edt’s voice skill­ful­ly crafts the all-encom­pass­ing spheres of sound that, on tracks like “The Peo­ple Speak,” spin around Club 8’s ener­getic sound. Each of the vari­ety of ways in which The Peo­ple’s Record han­dles Kom­st­edt’s vocals, from her nor­mal singing, which dri­ves the album while incor­po­rat­ing the emo­tion­al weight of her voice into the body of the music, to the cries of “Ha!” which intro­duce “Isn’t That Great,” adds to the album in its own way. Kom­st­edt’s voice is occa­sion­al­ly swal­lowed up into the body of the music as a whole, which unfor­tu­nate­ly lim­its her effect on the music slight­ly, but this is a small flaw - and one’s that large­ly coun­tered by those sec­tions where the two ele­ments mesh well.

The ener­gy run­ning through The Peo­ple’s Record gives the album an imme­di­ate sense of cheer­ful­ness - which is some­what con­tra­dict­ed by track titles such as “My Pes­simistic Heart” and “We’re All Going to Die.” But tit­u­lar fatal­ism and pes­simism aside, The Peo­ple’s Record man­ages to keep its activ­i­ty promi­nent through­out, whether Kom­st­edt is singing about “danc­ing with the men­tal­ly ill” or a “qui­et wind at sea.” Rep­e­ti­tion is quite com­mon through­out the album and is occa­sion­al­ly over­done, but for­tu­nate­ly it tends to work well with the music as a whole, itself some­what repetitive.

The Peo­ple’s Record is cer­tain­ly a com­pelling album. Club 8’s com­bi­na­tion of indie and African music, while not quite unique in rock, is exe­cut­ed in an orig­i­nal enough fash­ion to be tru­ly inter­est­ing. It cer­tain­ly does­n’t hurt that each ele­ment of this com­bi­na­tion and of Club 8’s music as a whole is gen­er­al­ly quite well thought out and cre­ative. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, The Peo­ple’s Record suf­fers from rep­e­ti­tion in sev­er­al sec­tions, most notably instru­men­tals and lyrics. But the inno­va­tion sur­round­ing the album helps to off­set this sub­stan­tial­ly, and all in all, The Peo­ple’s Record is, though not per­fect, a very good album.

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