Move over British pop, the Swedes are coming

Maria Martinez

In the 1960s America called the influx of English artists into the states “The British Invasion,” but it seems that Sweden has now taken the pop crown away from the Brits.

Sweden is now the third biggest exporter or pop music-behind the U.S. and the U.K.

When you think of Swedish music, you probably think of Abba or Ace of Base, but bands like The Sounds and Peter, Bjorn ‘ John have helped elevate the status of Swedish music in recent years.

A few years ago we had revved-up rockers like The Sahara Hotnights, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, and The Hives. It seems that now we have a gentler sound coming out of Scandinavia.

There’s the melancholy sound of The Concretes, the 80s-influenced garage pop of The Shout Out Louds, the romantic stylings of El Perro Del Mar (also known as Sara Assbring), and mellow rocker Jos? Gonz’aacute;lez.

Sweden has always contributed to the popular music spectrum, but this past year there has been wide success for several Swedish artists.

Most notably are Indie darlings Peter, Bjorn ‘ John. Their catchy tune “Young Folks” appeared on an episode of ABC’s hit drama “Grey’s Anatomy” and it became an instant hit.

Because of the success of PB’J, bands like The Knife and Pacific will have the opportunity to conquer America’s music scene with ease.

The Swedish government is also doing its part to aid musicians in the country.

They have established grants to enable people to learn musical instruments and are creating organizations to promote Swedish music across the globe.

Export Music Sweden is a group promotes and markets Swedish pop music worldwide. ExMS brings Sweden’s musicians together with record labels, publishers, and composers to create relationships that could produce more interest in Swedish pop music.

In addition, The Consulate General of Sweden along with ExMS has put on several seminars and concerts in Los Angeles and New York to showcase the best and brightest of Swedish talent.

The short list of innovative American pop artists doesn’t compare to the vast numbers of Swedish acts making it big today.

Interest in Swedish music is truly genuine and not a fad. People relate to the music’s authenticity. The country is swarming with artists who can combine sublime poppy melodies with lyrics that mean something (when they’re in English of course).

So whether they’re making garage rock like The (International) Noise Conspiracy, bluesy folk like Frida Hyv?nen, or electro pop like The Tough Alliance, the Swedish are here to stay.

Taken By Trees

“Open Field”

If you watch “Grey’s Anatomy” or if you’ve listened to FM Radio within the past year, you’ve probably heard the infectious pop tune “Young Folks” by Swedish trio Peter, Bjorn ‘ John.

The female vocals in the song are former Concretes lead singer Victoria Bergsman. Bergsman left the popular band a year ago to pursue a solo career. Now, under the name Taken By Trees, she has created something completely unlike her former band.

Produced by Bj?rn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn ‘ John, “Open Field” is full of sad songs about heartbreak and loneliness.

On “Lost and Found,” Bergsman laments of being “love sick” and having her convince her to cheer up.

Her sweet cooing and frail voice is showcased on “Only Yesterday,” where she sings of missing her lover.

The music is soft and stripped down, most notably in the title track, “Open Field” which has no lyrics. All you hear is a violin and a flute, but that’s all you really need.

It’s probably what makes this record so beautiful. Bergsman shows you don’t need lyrics to express sadness or gloom. You can truly relate to her when she sings, “I should know better when it comes to falling in love again,” because don’t we all wish the same.

Shout Out Louds “Our Ill Wills”

Another band with rising hype is the Shout Out Louds.

On their sophomore album “Our Ill Wills,” also produced by Yttling, they keep doing what they’re good at, writing dance tracks that have a sentimental undertone.

Lead singer Adam Olenius – whose voice sounds an awful lot like The Cure’s Robert Smith – writes the majority of the tunes and delicate melodies.

The album starts out with a thundering drum roll on “Tonight I Have To Leave It,” an introduction stating, “We’re back!”

Olenius’ unrequited love is a theme on the entire album. Most clearly exemplified on the seven-minute song “Impossible.” He sings “Can someone else promise me a new chance as you promised?” Sadly, by the end of the track, he hopes his lost love could someday find her own true love. “I know it could happen to you,” he sobs.

Another notable theme is travel and the sea, as depicted in the tracks like “Normandie” and “South America.” Also, the album’s cover has a maritime signal and in the video for “Tonight,” the band is the crew on a ship bound for sea.

Bebban Stenborg – the only girl in the band and a fantastic instrumentalist playing the accordion and keyboards – takes the lead for a female perspective on the downhearted “Blue Headlights.” No doubt she will be compared to Victoria Bergsman. In fact, Stenborg sang the Bergsman part of “Young Folks” with PB’J at this year’s Coachella Music Festival.

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