It’s not hard to imagine Club 8 flowing out of those earphones to remove the lo-fi lover from the overwhelming and the sensational of daily life. Half comprised of Acid House Kings member Johan Angergård and with a discography including “Spring Came, Rain Fell” that makes love songs capable of being not irritating without resorting to lyrical irony, Club 8 serves as the savior from Scandinavia. Yes, it’s possible to be sincere about love. Maybe it’s something the Swedes would like to keep a national secret.
But Angergård and vocalist Karolina Komstedt sharply depart from their now-predictable combination of unassuming–almost murmured–singing and tender melodies to discombobulate their well-developed and well-received repertoire. What used to be a signature blend of Komstedt’s soft and often hurt, breathy near-whispers and Angergård’s careful and catchy pop rifts becomes almost rejected in their new album, The People’s Record. After traveling to Brazil for inspiration for their first album in three years, the duo brought back records produced in West Africa during the ’70s as a springboard for their producer, known for working with fellow minimalist indie pop groups Camera Obscura and The Concretes. Plenty of African beats are fused into Club 8’s latest project, resulting in a stray from their go-to status as the calm Swedish forces in an international musicland of lewd ostentation. In “Like Me”, saxophone solos interrupt a witty little play on words as the rupture in the song forces us to appreciate the thought that went into the writing: “I think you like me/ I like you better/ I think you’re like me/ But only better.”
As the last track, “Western Hospitality” pulsates from the very beginning with hand drums being employed at an impossible speed, their staccato thumps only slightly placated by background’s “ah’s.” Going against Club 8’s own grain of unhurried cooing, the song marches along at an unusually fast pace, especially for the sobering message it hopes to send. As each word from the line, “One day we’ll come to the point we’ve been waiting for,” falls into place in between each step of the quickening pace, the contrast between lighthearted play and solemn introspection makes you want to dance — if you’re not paralyzed from confusion yet.
Not to say they completely leave behind their soothing pop roots — after maracas and bongo drums build to a strangely danceable beat, the rhythm eventually leads to Komstedt’s concession to her lover’s whims as she sighs into our ears in her old, lovelorn way, “I’ll be there for you again/ My pessimistic heart goes out to you.” In “Isn’t That Great?,” Angergård’s loyalty to subdued pop comes through with an emotionally smothering yet forceful stamp on the chest despite what sounds like a Spanish mandolin adding a dress-flipping flare to the sadness of Komstedt’s voice. “These people are all forsaken/ And baby we were all mistaken,” she sings, right before she laughs off the despondency with a lithe “Haha ha haha hahaha!” in perhaps a heckle. But she can mock me however she wants — I’m just glad Club 8’s still the same Club 8 that saved me at the supermarket.
At least for the most part.