Whenever Swedish music is mentioned, a ubiquitous reference to ABBA seems to follow, but our Nordic friends have more to offer us than 70s euro cheese. One genre which has been rapidly gaining popularity in Sweden is twee pop, and unlike the recent surge of Swedish pop artists, has remained largely uncovered by the UK mainstream. For those unaware, twee pop is a sugary sweet derivative of indie with simple melodies and catchy lyrics, and be it the water or the meatballs, the Swedes seem to have a knack for it.
A staple of the Swede-twee scene is Annika Norlin’s Hello Saferide. Discovered after posting a song on the internet in 2005, she has subsequently released two albums, Introducing…Hello Saferide in 2005 and More Modern Short Stories From Hello Saferide in 2008.The songs are both upbeat and sombre, constructed from bounding, tuneful guitar, hand claps and occasional accompaniments from piano, accordion and glockenspiel. The best part is the lyrics, turning the songs into collection of miniature stories and comical insights.
Another curiously named band making waves is I’m From Barcelona. The interesting fact about this band is that it has 30 members who play a variety of instruments ranging from clarinets to kazoos. So far the band has released two albums, and their songs contain equal measures of plucky acoustic guitar and hand clapping, but with the addition of trumpets and a joyful choir to back Emanuel Lundgrens vocals.
Providing a simpler sound, Those Dancing Days may be the youngest of the lot. Lead singer Linnea Jönsson only finished school in 2008, the same year as the release of their debut In Our Space Hero Suits. The four-strong girl group combine jangly guitar, northern soul vocals and a Hammond organ to express their love for holidays, boys and life.
A less conventional member of the twee collective is Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, a duo comprised of Johan Hedberg and Peter Gunnarson. Their debut, #3, was released in 2005, and they are due to release another sometime this year. The pair make music in the hallway of Peter’s parents house sounding like catchy advert jingles with low off-key vocals and the occasional sample.
These artists are only a tiny glimpse into an exciting scene that is well deserving of your attention. So if you can believe that there is more to Swedish music than the synth bit from Final Countdown, then go discover.