Love in October | Pontus, The Devil, and Me (The Musik Group)

cd_love-in-oct.jpgLove in October, an emo-type foursome led by Swedish brothers Erik and Kent Widman, may be based in Minneapolis, but that adrenaline-charged sound you hear will be familiar to anyone who’s heard The Hives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re from Sweden, you just can’t help making rock ‘n’ roll, apparently. Gotta be in the genes or something. Outside of the United Kingdom, there’s no other European country that hatches so many high-octane rock outfits as Sweden. If only so many of them didn’t sound kinda samey, though!

Love in October, an emo-type foursome led by Swedish brothers Erik and Kent Widman (the former on vocals, guitars and keyboards, the latter on bass and moog), may be based in Minneapolis after the Widman’s trans-Atlantic move, but that adrenaline-charged sound you hear on Pontus, The Devil, and Me, their debut full-length, will be familiar to anyone who’s heard The Hives, Mando Diao, Division of Laura Lee, et al. Don’t get me wrong—there’s a ton of diversity in Scandinavia’s eastern quadrilateral, and the guitar-driven rock side of things is done with sass and panache there. But it’s a particular sound that doesn’t yield that many surprises, as a rule.

With all that said, Love in October are a pretty good combo. Aided by guitarist Nik Pfeifer and capable drummer Brian Boesen, the Widmans lay it down quickly and coolly in these 11 tracks. You get rousing rockers like "Circa 1989," "Method to Madness" and the aptly named "Viva la Revolucion," the latter a not-too-eloquent slap at Dubya-era abuses: "Back in the bar of American values/ We drink until our lies become the real truth/ Fight a war and make up another excuse/ Forget about the ones we’ve killed and abused…HEY YOU! Don’t let me speak free."

Better are the upbeat "I Dream of Marie Antoinette," on which Erik Widman nudges his voice to the higher registers in beguiling fashion, and "Find Me Sunshine," about as chipper a bit of appreciation for that ball o’ fire in the sky as you could want, set to a bouncy little arrangement. For variety, there’s "Vi Gar Till Stranden," sung entirely in Swedish, the instrumental "An Average Idea," and the lazily titled "Song Eleven," which is nonetheless a highlight, with its pleasing combo of acoustic guitar, spare orchestration and Widman’s emotive vocal. The lyrics reminisce in evocative manner about travels through the years with a romantic partner, and the tune closes the record on a nice high.

So…this is a pretty decent record overall. But not much more. It’s quick and relatively fat-free, and it’ll get you down that ol’ highway just fine if you’re going for a drive. But it remains to be seen if Love in October are ambitious enough to push themselves to do something a little more expansive, something less formulaic. This album hints at something greater than "an average idea" or two; here’s hoping their next outing will spill the beans, creatively. B- | Kevin Renick

RIYL: Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Weezer

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