David & the Citizens David & the Citizens

What is it about Sweden and their fixation with pop music? It seems they never have much trouble in finding yet another cheery export to dispatch to our jaded shores. Meanwhile we sit on Ikea furniture and picture a land where flaxen-haired people frolic on boreal shorelines, singing songs to each other until the midnight sun sets. There’s an exuberance that befits this idyllic image on this six-song EP by Malmö’s own David and the Citizens. This, their first North American release, is intended to be a primer of sorts, compiling highlights from the band’s back catalogue. It’s all intricately embroidered horns and harmonies power pop, sunny and confident, but underpinned by themes of uncertainty and frustration. Making short, sweet, pop songs that are still fresh sounding can be a monstrously difficult undertaking, and the Citizens are not entirely unsuccessful in this endeavour. Curiously it is the more subdued songs — "Let Me Put It This Way” and "Now She Sleeps in a Box in the Good Soil of Denmark” — that are the most intriguing ones. The latter in particular is a sparkling acoustic salvo laced with elegant wordplay ("And this necklace of question marks beautifully framing your face”) that Jeff Mangum would be proud to pen. But these are anomalies on a disc that seems content to march out pleasant, catchy tunes, a mite too familiar and comfortable to stand out in an overpopulated pool of melody-fixated guitar slingers. (Friendly Fire)