Some people would have you believe that writing pop songs is easy, but any fool knows that writing great pop songs is a skill and that the trick is to make it look easy. On their second album, the Swedish quartet, Sambassadeur, make writing and performing perfect pop so effortless and natural, while giving pop a hard kick up its backside and breathing new life into its weary lungs.
Opening song, ‘The Park’ is a sparky, upbeat song, propelled along by an upfront mandolin and rhythm, with the bittersweet chorus giving the song a slightly melancholic feel. ‘Subtle Changes’ mixes up synths, guitars and strings in a sweet, subtle confection of a song full of clever, subtle changes. There’s a real sense of beauty and loss as Anna Persson’s angelic voice tells us ‘And falling stars will come back in fashion’ while the burst of brass gives the song a really buoyant feel. ‘That Town’ has a big, big warm sound, with the acoustic guitar and handclap percussion beating a way to your heart as the song twists and turns in every direction. ‘Fallin’ In Love’ is a haunting, rich cover of the Dennis Wilson song. It’s so beautifully done that words fail me… It sounds stark and orchestral with the flourishes of piano, strings and the eerie backing vocals.
‘Migration’ is a slightly more upbeat song, very gentle and sweet, full of images of ‘seeking new sensations’ and moving on, ‘running too’. ‘Final Say’ features clattering percussion and neat melodies. It’s a real belter of an electronic song, reminding me a bit of New Order and Saint Etienne. ‘Someday We’re Through’ gave me a jolt when the male lead vocal came in. It’s a stripped down, lovely song, at times little more than bass and vocals with little bits of guitars and keyboards floating in and out of the mix. Although the voice is less assured than Persson’s, it’s warm and cool, the lyrics biting:
You’re in the wind and in the air
You’re on my back and in my face
Your profundity will clear this place.
‘Something To Keep’ is full of catchy melodies soaring around a riff that insinuates its way into your head and stays there demanding squatter’s rights. ‘Calvi’ is a beautiful bookend for an album that starts with the full-on pop of the first three songs, a lovely, expressive and evocative instrumental.
Migration is a lovely album, sweet but not cloying. On the surface it initially seems quite breezy but keeps on throwing up different things at you. Like an iceberg, it seems pretty impressive but there’s much more lurking beneath the surface of these heavenly pop songs. Sambassadeur may well have came up with the summer album of 2008. At the Ambassador’s parties they apparently serve up disgusting chocolate confections, at Sambassadeur’s parties they serve up pure pop thrills with a twist.