Club 8 | The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming (Labrador)

cd_club8.jpgHer songs are swathed in romantic heartache—both the "yearning for you" and "I’m disillusioned by you" varieties.







In Swedish pop music, there’s a predilection for melancholia, but there’s also an affection for sunny melodies and bouncy rhythms. Few groups straddle these two musical strains better than Club 8, the boy-girl duo of Johan Angergård and Karolina Komstedt. They’ve been making music together for 15 years, these two, and they’ve developed a sublime sound that is instantly recognizable and cottony soft.

Komstedt’s voice is a big part of that—in a nation with loads of ladies blessed with alluring voices, Komstedt’s sweet, dream-suffused soprano definitely stands out. Just ask the members of the Yahoo discussion group "Angelic Voices," where Komstedt is a popular favorite. Her songs are swathed in romantic heartache—both the "yearning for you" and "I’m disillusioned by you" varieties. "I do what I do but I don’t understand it/ I see and I hear but I don’t know what you demand of me," Komstedt sings on "In the Morning," one of numerous blissful tracks on The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming, Club 8’s latest.

The combination of wonderfully ambiguous lyrics, nostalgia for better times and that soothingly soft voice is what makes a Club 8 record such a memorable listen. "Heaven" is a stirring tune that finds Komstedt looking back on her childhood "And though I don’t remember much/ I still feel the same/ And though I don’t talk that much/ There are things to say/ But not today," she shares, in about as convincing an expression of wistful introspection as you’re likely to hear. Yet the tune itself has a catchy rhythm and great bass line; if it doesn’t quite make you dance, you can sure tap your feet to it effortlessly. Stuff like this stays under your skin—part of you might feel a gentle ache inside because of the vague emotions conjured, but your ears appreciate the sheer prettiness of the music.

"Hope and Dreams" is another gem; some college radio station is probably playing this one right now. It’s a great song for walking along a shoreline somewhere with your iPod on, thinking about all those things you’re not quite getting in life. And on "Sometimes," the acoustic guitar strums, simple drum machine rhythm and flawless orchestration serve to create an arrangement so solid that when Komstedt lowers her voice to a near-whisper, every emotional nuance comes through clearly—and you’re invited to apply your own meaning to the deliberately vague lyrics, surely one of the most worthwhile results of listening to great pop music. If this is a confection, it’s certainly a multi-layered one, as Club 8’s music sparkles like sunshine on a fresh blanket of snow.

Dreaming may not be Club 8’s best, as it’s probably a few strong tunes short of being a classic. But that’s relative in this duo’s discography…what they do, on every blissful recording, is beckon you, take you by the hand, and guide you to a place where you can calmly reflect on romance, solitude and everything that lies between. Then when the last tones flicker away, they send you back to your reality with new understanding of what it means to be vulnerable, yet always hopeful that something magical lies around the next corner. Boys and girls alike will never stop dreaming about that B+ | Kevin Renick

RIYL: Saint Etienne, The Cardigans, Acid House Kings

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