Club 8

Above the City

Labrador

May 22, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Club 8 started out as a twee-pop outfit before gradually obscuring and veering towards electronics. On the duo’s eighth outing, Above the City, the electro-pop sound is very ‘now,’ but the Scandinavian indie-pop roots lend it distinctiveness thanks in part to Karolina Komstedt’s saccharine vocals. 

The band has relinquished some of the African and Latin American influences that illuminated its last LP, The People's Record, with only the occasional eclectic rhythm and instrumentation. But far from singular, Above the City moves through three quite different phases, separated by interludes.

The first is up-tempo but brooding, with menacing dance beats and ominous poly-synths, as Komstedt laments a broken heart. The doomy opener lets us know just how bad she's feeling by its title alone, "Kill Kill Kill." Then her voice stretches to the point of cracking on "Stop Taking My Time," as she cries: "You're stealing my heart away/But not in a lovely way/I feel like my blood has gone."

All four openers are winners but I wonder how long I can stay in this death-disco before resorting to hard drugs. The last in the quartet is "Run," in which the blame-game is turned inwards, and the solution is thus: "I just want to run away..."

Which is exactly what happens for the second set with three sun-kissed vacation-jams that shine light through the misery. "A Small Piece of Heaven" is pure escapism with those West-African vibes coming to the fore, magic dust sprinkled over the guitars, and Komstedt orgasmically 'uh-uh'-ing. "I'm Not Gonna Grow Old" drives the point home by brazenly ripping off Madonna's "Holiday" for its verse riff.

The last phase darkens again. On "Into the Air," Komstedt sounds more resigned, the synths seeming to carry rather than threaten her now. Then with the climax comes a curious but disorientating side-step towards Sleigh Bells-style stomp-pop. Talk about bipolar. That said, Above the City is generally a fascinating journey that finds Club 8 continuing to push its peculiar pop sound forwards. (www.club-8.org)

Author rating: 7/10

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