Irene Apple Bay

No longer just the land of sunny timeless pop and fiery garage rock, Sweden’s musical landscape is rapidly evolving into something diverse and vast. But that doesn’t mean its two biggest exports have to keep silent. Irene are a chirpy nine-person collective that give warm hugs via the effervescent music their ancestors like the Acid House Kings, the Cardigans, and sure, even Abba made famous. They play all of the right instruments — organ, trumpet, glockenspiel, handclaps — in a classic format stylised 40 years ago, soaking in iridescent reverb. In a nutshell, it’s all terribly clichéd throwback pop, but damn, it sure does turn my frown upside down. Thanks to singer Bobby and his robustly golden throat, Irene have the one factor they need to surpass the surplus of contemporaries saturating the market. A voice that finds middle ground between Johnny Cash (in his heyday), Scott Walker (pre-dating his avant-garde wailing) and Richard Hawley (circa now), he can turn a done-to-death refrain like "I love you” into a fresh catchphrase. It’s hardly the next wave of anything, but Apple Bay will fill any afternoon picnic with plenty of delight. (Labrador)