A Swedish Reverie: We Are Serenades’ Criminal Heaven

About a week back I posted, the closing track from We Are Serenades’ new album Criminal Heaven, “Walking Home” because the hand clapping just got me up in a tizzy. Well, I’m back to tell you there is more to this Swedish group than simply a catchy song.

Following in the vein of albums filled with mirth, Criminal Heaven is a ten song collection of indie-pop gems.  A burst of pure fun from start to finish (and only 30 minutes long), the record evokes the genre-hop-scotching of electro-dance groups like Passion Pit and MGMT. From the outset they set out to build up and counter expectations.  On the opening track, “All the Words”, the song starts with a slow choir-like harmony that transitions at song’s end into a quirky electro-R&B coda reminiscent of the side project of Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmandglij and Ra Ra Riot‘s Wesley Miles, Discovery; a blend of old world melody through a modern filter. Following in the old world vein, “Birds” is a fully orchestrated and layered pop-chamber piece underscored by the bands gorgeous falsetto harmonies, which continue with a brilliant cascading effect into “Come Home” a surf-rock tinged piece reminiscent of Brit-pop balladeers Luna (Dean Warham) as well as the shoegazer jams of Mojave 3 – the song is pure ear-candy. But, this record isn’t all precious and tender, the group speeds up the percussion and rhythm on “Weapons” creating an up-beat dance number in the vein of Passion Pit’s “Moth’s Wings”. There is also the curious “Oceans” with its trance-like pscyh-rock feel, similar to the what MGMT was doing on their second record Congratulations, which I admit I enjoy as a whole work better than the first – even though “Kids” might be one of the best dance song ever written, not hyperbole, I’ve been saying this for years now. And, yes, the album closes with the exquisite “Walking Home” that stirs an urge to go forth and explore, even though the title perhaps suggests the opposite! The song reminds me a lot of the folk-gospel elements of Iron and Wine‘s song “Walking Far From Home” (a sort of reverie of the state of the world that recalls Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” – although the world Dylan was soothsaying was the cultural (and literal) wars of the 60s) and MGMT’s “Love Always Remains”.  It captures an epic, transcendental feeling in simple yet grandiose way, a nutshell of the record as a whole.  As always, though, don’t take my word for it….

Go listen to all of We Are SerenadesCriminal Heaven record here.

More on We Are Serenades at their website here.

Also, check out their U.S. Tour Dates in May here.  (On quick glance, I see NYC, SF, DC, Boston, Philly, and Chicago.)

a.a.

Further Listening (if you like the above):

  • Shout Out Louds Our Ill Wills
  • Luna – Bewitched
  • Passion Pit – Manners
  • MGMT – Congratulations
  • Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala

 

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