Club 8 Strangely Beautiful

Sweden’s Club 8, featuring the duo of indie impresario Johan Angergard and high school teacher Karolina Komstedt, make a fine case study for an "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. Strangely Beautiful, their fifth studio release, is a natural extension of last year’s dreamy Spring Came, Rain Fell, and it is a stunner. Clocking in at just over 32 minutes, it is chock full of perfect indie pop, caressed by Komstedt’s velvet voice. Although it may be a bold claim, Club 8 have taken the baton from artists like Saint Etienne and the Cardigans and surpassed their recent efforts with room to spare. This is smooth, sexy pop music at its best. It might not be genre-bending or experimental, and it won’t frighten your parents, but for pure listening pleasure on a lazy day, this is heaven. "Cold Hearts” tugs at the heartstrings, as does "This Is the Morning,” the lone vocal contribution from Angergard. "The Beauty of the Way We’re Living” and "What Shall We Do Next,” on the other hand, make for some wonderful, uplifting sunny day listening. Their sound has aged well over the years, moving on from simple dance pop to more emotional, album-based songwriting. Their musical strength and consistency together is an even more impressive feat considering they used to be romantically involved, but carried on with Club 8 even after splitting up. It certainly makes for interesting lyrical subject matter. Seemingly insulated from Sweden’s recent rock exports (Komstedt has never even heard of the Hives), they have stuck to their guns and produced another gentle gem. A fantastic album — short, sweet, and splendid. (Parasol)