Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

By now, we're all aware that Sweden breeds great pop bands. The wide-open melodies, the sunny clean guitars, and simple yet elegant arrangements are what have made acts like Aerospace, Jens Lekman, and The Legends so endearing. The Charade does their countrymen proud by following in the perfect pop path paved by The Cardigans and, gasp, ABBA. (I'm sorry, but they are solid songs. And you know it.)

The Charade was formed by former members of Happydeadmen and The Shermans, and maintains the always-popular formula of gorgeous girl vocals and jangly guitars — to great effect. The songs are full of sun and bah bah bah's, bopping along with the windows down and no school tomorrow. But after repeated listenings a vein of melancholy becomes apparent, running just beneath the surface and only showing itself briefly, in a turn of phrase or a bridge. It does a perfect job of cutting the sugar, saving the band from what could possibly become a mouthful of cavities.

The Best Is Yet To Come starts off with "Monday Morning," all hands a-clapping and daring you to not dance around, and keeps things interesting with melody lines you swear you've heard before, even though you haven't. Then, track four, the band takes it's first breath. "Stories Remain Untold," with its lilting, aching verse: a last song at the last chance summer dance, the smell of white cotton and bare feet on warm pavement. Just as you've let the song take you over, and your mind is wandering, thinking back to that one kid you met at camp in the sixth grade — could she have been the one? — it finishes. Instant nostalgia in exactly three minutes. Things you never think to think about, but somehow, the synapses connect. This record is full of moments like that: places that are new but familiar. We used to live here but we don't anymore. You look like someone I used to know.

Not that this should be mislabeled as a one-dimensional, fluffy, feel-good album. The track "The Best is Yet to Come" takes dips into melancholy. For the majority of "The Sun is Going to Shine on You…and Me," lyricist Magnus Karlsson (using vocalist Ingela Mattson's heavenly voice) convinces us that, "A new day will rise and the sun is gonna shine on you and me, the best is yet to come," and then ends the track with the conclusion that, "Sunshine won't reset your mind." In "The Saddest Story Ever Told" Mattson reminds us, "It's a sad one" while instrumentalist/husband Mikael Mattson cooks up an glorious, almost Stereolab-like din behind her.

It's the perfect balance — the savory and the sweet — that makes this record work. And we would expect nothing less from the land of lutefisk and loganberries.