El Perro del Mar From the Valley to the Stars

El Perro del Mar From the Valley to the Stars
While no album may reach perfection, El Perro Del Mar’s 2006 self-titled breakthrough came close. The record’s clever pop formula, which contrasted woeful saccharine melodies with optimistic Phil Spector-styled structures, garnered near-universal acclaim and drew little, if any, bad ink. However, the follow-up, From the Valley to the Stars, is unlikely to meet such a positive reaction. On this new full-length, Sweden’s El Perro Del Mar (aka Sarah Assbring) trades the bouncy doo-wop of her previous effort for a sombre, high-concept approach that sadly misses more marks than it hits. Gone are Assbring’s layers of reverb, multi-tracked harmonies and sashaying rhythms and in their place are melancholic, bare-bone songs — often of a religious nature — that primarily employ only humming church organs, pianos and Assbring’s voice. And in itself, this shift isn’t all bad; after all, sadness in Assbring’s songs is nothing new, and the odd upbeat number does offer occasional relief. The problem is the tracks often come across as sketches of songs rather than as fully realised ones, giving glimpses of something great but never quite getting there. Perhaps El Perro Del Mar set a standard that was impossible to live up to, no matter what record she made next. (Control Group)