Spring Came, Rain Fell
Club 8 is Karolina Komstedt on vocals and Johan Angergard on Everything Else: Guitars, bass, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion and vocals. Andil Dahl guests on bongos and harmonica.
As you might have guessed from their names, the duo is Swedish, and this is their fourth album. Much like another duo, named Annie and Dave, the pair once dated and have now broken up but continue to make quite extraordinary music together.
A twanging guitar opens the first track, “We’re Simple Minds,” and the strummed, more echoey variety comes after it like friends running to catch up. This amicable beginning is followed by the title track, which is going to make “Clubbies” out of a lot of us lonely men with active fantasy lives. Karolina sings, “You don’t have to try so hard.” We make a lot of fun of the teenage girls and their idealized boyfriends ‘N Sync with their hearts desires, but the truth is there’s a lot of wish fulfillment that goes into the Top 10 lists and such of “grown up,” male music fans (and critics). Certainly this writer had, aside from a deep respect for the late Kirsty MacColl as a singer/songwriter, a massive crush on her as well. Some songs we like because they sound deceptively unwritten, as though the singer just happened to articulate emotions we wish we were getting from somewhere (read someone) else. “Spring Came, Rain Fell” is such a song, and at least two-thirds of the album is its equal.
Johan, who, it should be mentioned, wrote the songs, sings lead on two — “Close To Me,” which evokes a less-danceable New Romanticism, like Gary Numan on a slow drive at night, and “Teenage Life,” which is very Pet Shop Boys: It sounds as though Johan learnt English as a second language from Neil Tennant on a “learn while sleeping” tape: “A boy at 15, shy and clumsy, he feels it all…“
The songs’ lyrics are both fresh and mature, with “Baby, I’m Not Sure if This is Love” a perfect example. “Lovers keep their secrets,” Karolina sings. Then, later: “Lovers keep their distance…maybe they don’t like what they see.” “Friends And Lovers” is both cold and tender, like the kinds of friends and lovers that leave scars despite their best intentions.
Speaking of Top 10 lists, which I was, the year’s not two months old and we already have a candidate for mine. Spring Came, Rain Fell is an irresistible mix of sounds that sound half whispered, and half like thoughts you had in your head already. It is the kind of album you pull out every few months to reassure yourself it really is as good as you remember. I’d bet some pretty serious money that it will be. Comes a moment of sober reflection: A few months from now, will I be embarrassed at how I gushed over this album to you? I don’t think so. The least I could say now might be the most I can say then, but it will still hold true: This is a very rewarding album.
I do wonder whether the American Top 10, at least, can find room for Club 8 amidst its Pinks and No Doubts. If it can’t — and I don’t often say this — I think it actually will be a case of something being too good to be a hit.
Club 8: http://www.club-8.org