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Soundtrack of our Lives | Behind the Music | review | rock | Lollipop
The Soundtrack of our Lives
Behind the Music (Telegram/Warner Brothers)
by Brian Varney
When I like something as much as I like this band, disappointment is both a constant fear and an inevitability. Each new release is greeted with a mixture of wild anticipation and dread. I'm always anxious to hear new output from my favorite band, but there's also the constant, nagging worry that they'll finally stumble. No one can be great forever, right?
That much seems obvious, but three albums and an EP down the road, The Soundtrack of our Lives show no signs of mortality. Simply put, Behind the Music is a stunner, the third consecutive bull's-eye for these Swedes.
Formed in the mid-'90s from the ashes of the legendary Union Carbide Productions, The Soundtrack of our Lives are altogether more accessible than that band's brilliant hurricane frenzy. Soundtrack's roots are plain to see - a deep, abiding love of late-'60s psychedelia and rock (think Rolling Stones, The Who, Love, Buffalo Springfield, The Zombies, The Beach Boys and The Kinks) filtered through a startling gift for catchy tunes, beautiful melodies and lush but never excessive arrangements. Six-piece rock bands are rare, but any less would deprive these songs. In addition to standard rock instruments (guitars, drums, piano), you'll hear sitar, dulcimer, strings, and "additional instruments that make us too pretentious to mention." The result is an album whose genesis is an obvious love of '60s music, but there's nothing retro or stilted about it. For music so obviously rooted in the past, this has a very nice organic feeling. It breathes...
Ebbot Lundberg, lead singer, primary songwriter, and resident wacko, will be nothing short of a revelation if you've only heard the Union Carbide LPs. Whether on the introspective piano ballad "Tonight," pop stunner "Mind the Gap," or rock shuffle "Sister Surround," Lundberg is fully in command of his voice. It's hard to believe he's the same guy who screamed himself hoarse (albeit engagingly) on Union Carbide's seismic debut, In the Air Tonight.
And the rest of the band are no slouches, either. Boasting nice twin-guitars and a rhythmic attack that's stunning yet never overplayed, there's not a whole lot of fat to be trimmed. And though all of the extra, weird instruments mentioned above often send up a red flag ("Hippies at three o'clock!"), they're not out of place here. In fact, the songs almost demand their presence in the mix. And after a few times through the album's 15 tracks (20 if you're quick or lucky and got a first pressing which includes a five-song bonus CD), you'll be making some demands of your own: More Soundtrack of our Lives!
I can say no more... As is usual in the face of such overwhelming beauty, words fail me. You're not going to find this at your corner record store (unless you live in Europe), but you can get on the web and find this pretty easily, so put forth the effort. You won't regret it.