Introducing… Hello Saferide/Long Lost Penpal EP
There really isn’t a rock sub-genre more bludgeoned into irrelevance than musical comedy. Years in the hands of weak satirists like The Bloodhound Gang, Barenaked Ladies and The Offspring will do that. Thankfully, Hello Saferide (nee Annika Norlin) along with her fellow Swede Jens Lekman are doing their part to inject an enjoyable level of humor into their songwriting to keep the laughter from tanking completely. Take “Get Sick Soon,” one of the sweetest love songs in recent memory. In it, Norlin wishes the flu on her boyfriend so that she can lavish attention on him. In the midst of kind sentiments, she breezes through the line, “you’re the cutest thing I’ve ever seen/like a teddy bear on heroin.” Certainly a WTF moment if there ever was one, but, still, it doesn’t detract from the emotional connection built up in the rest of the lyrics. Norlin’s quirky characters pop up all over the album, letting loose their deepest personality disorders: “If I Don’t Write This Song, Someone I Love Will Die” is beautifully obvious; one of the two teenage female participants on “Long Lost Penpal” is revealed to be, you guessed it, “a 46 years old man named Luke”; and for every introvert in their youth, “High School Stalker” should ring at least partially true. Even when her heavy subject matter isn’t lightened lyrically, Norlin’s bouncy pop songwriting keeps pathos-riddled songs like “Saturday Nights” and “I Don’t Sleep Well” from becoming overly morose.
Long Lost Penpal offers two songs not found on the LP, the wry “RE: Always on My Mind” and the somewhat uncharacteristically sinister sounding “Valentine’s Day,” which is shot through with echoing dissonance and Valkyrian cello sweeps. Two low concept, highly enjoyable videos, for the sexually frustrated “My Best Friend” and the previously mentioned obsessive-compulsive ode, round out the EP. All in all, fourteen tracks and not a dud in the bunch, that’s a scorecard that puts to shame most bands who’re aiming at your funny bone, but only find the used bin.