Tiger Baby | Noise Around Me (Souvenir)

With Pernille Pang’s silky-sweet voice fluttering amid the sometimes bouncy, sometimes lush ’n’ melancholy textures served up by multi-instrumentalists Benjamin Teglbjaerg and Nikolaj Gregersen, it’s a wonder this Danish trio didn’t make a bigger splash away from their homeland.

 

There should be a subgenre for sparkling indie-pop centered around sweet, breathy female vocals. A comprehensive survey of that style conducted by Joe Musicologist could then devote a few lines to the near-perfection of Tiger Baby’s 2004 release Lost in You. With Pernille Pang’s silky-sweet voice fluttering amid the sometimes bouncy, sometimes lush ’n’ melancholy textures served up by multi-instrumentalists Benjamin Teglbjaerg and Nikolaj Gregersen, it’s a wonder this Danish trio didn’t make a bigger splash away from their homeland. But those who heard the disc were enchanted by it, and at long last, the follow-up, Noise Around Me, is here.

One difference immediately noticeable is the greater emphasis on dance floor–friendly rhythms. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but it does lessen the overall impact of Tiger Baby’s candy-coated Scandi pop. Tunes here such as “Girlfriend,” “Parkova,” “Just For a Day,” and “Prolusion” definitely favor physical movement over emotional flourishes, although you can hardly hear Pang’s dreamy voice without responding on some level. She’s pitched somewhere between Annie, Kylie Minogue, and David Lynch muse Julee Cruise—and she’s arguably a better singer than all three.

One of the best of the rhythm-centric tracks here is “In Your Heart,” which begins with shimmering keyboards before the trademark thumping beat and lower-octave synth sounds kick in. Once that lovely vocal commences, though, you could choose to dance or make love, and the song would be perfect either way. “You try to play a thousand strings/But none of them are solving things/And when you’re with the things you love/You always get it all fucked up,” coos Ms. Pang with undeniable allure. It’s strangely compelling to hear these lyrics from such a sweetly feminine voice. “Magic M” is an even better song, the track closest to Tiger Baby’s previous disc. It’s an utterly fetching, melodic pop song with delicate harmonies and a perfect blend of musical elements, like a sonic crème brulée prepared by masters. There’s also a unique cover of Joy Division’s classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” on which Pang’s vocal comes across as rather soft and shy—in fact, she alters the original melody a bit. The peppy arrangement tends to dial down the song’s inherent angst, but it’s still a highly listenable track.

Less successful are tunes such as “At Least I’m Honest,” on which the “get out there and dance” aesthetic somewhat dissipates the natural charm of the band; it’s just a matter of this sound already being so prevalent in contemporary pop. “Moved Me” follows the same formula, but it’s catchier and hard to resist when playin’ loud on the car stereo. Overall verdict: a pleasing, listenable album that should grab the attention of new fans, but likely won’t make older fans of the band stop listening to Lost in You. And there’s perhaps a thesis to be conducted here as to whether playing up the Noise Around Me over the emotions within me makes for better, or merely more commercial, music.


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