Thursday, March 19, 2009

I wanna make it serious, it's so more than a silly crush

I love Velvet. I really do. For fun Swedish dance-pop, the sort of thing made for throwing your hands in the air and losing yourself on the dancefloor, she's pretty hard to beat. It's been about two years since the release of the first single from her second album, "Fix Me" and since then, she's had us at her feet with nearly every single release.

With The Queen, that long-awaited second album, only including four previously unheard songs ("Radio Star," "Play," "My Destiny," and "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes," the last being a cover of an Ultravox song), it would be easy for the album as a whole to come off as nothing more than a way to hear those four songs. The infectious dance vibe of the previously heard songs has remained so untarnished, though, that The Queen ends up being a cohesive celebration of pop that is far more than the sum of those four songs.

It helps that the previously heard but not formally released songs have been tweaked. "My Rhythm" sounds much less demo-like with its newer punchier production and is even more single-worthy than it was in its already great original version. The incredibly dance-friendly "Sound Of Music" was perfect as it was, but its alterations are subtler and don't detract from the song; choosing to include it on the album was one of the best decisions Velvet and her management could have made since it's songs like this one that sum up what Velvet is about to me.

That there are some real highlights among the new songs surely helps, too. "Radio Star" is penned by pop genius Tony Nilsson, also responsible for "The Queen," and it shows: as opposed to the swooshy dance-pop production that characterizes much of Velvet's other work, there's a little more restraint here, but when the melody is this good--and this cute, for all that Velvet and Swedish writers may comment that her work with Tony is "cooler"--that's not a problem; it just puts the song a little closer to the pop side of the spectrum than the dance side, while still staying absolutely danceable. Does anyone make a chorus of pop bliss like Tony does? "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" won't surprise anyone who knows the song or any of the numerous dance covers of it, but it's a song that suits being dance-pop-ified and Velvet's style. It easily sits alongside the rest of Velvet's work. The same can't quite be said of "My Destiny," by virtue of it being the album's only ballad (though the occasional '80s synth touches help it seem a little more in place), or "Play," also of considerably more subdued than the rest of the album, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're bad songs.

The main reason the album is such a remarkable success, though, is that the songs are flat-out great. The staying power of songs like the dance attack "Fix Me" and horns-featuring "Chemistry" is pretty tough to beat, with time only further proving them to be some of the best dance-pop music the world has made in the past two years. There's no reason we shouldn't be playing follow-ups like "Take My Body Close" and "Come Into The Night" years from now either; both those songs provide the very musical definition of "sparkling" as they spin you around and get you searching for the nearest empty space to turn into your own personal disco. "Sound Of Music" may beat them at their own game, but even if time proves that to be true, that doesn't make them any less great or any less fun. The aformentioned "The Queen" deserved far better than its stuck-in-semifinal fate in this year's Melodifestival and is a perfect pop song.

In short? Buy buy buy! The Queen is practically a greatest hits album and a must-listen for all Swedish pop lovers or anyone who loves pop you can dance to. Velvet makes pop music worth celebrating and perfect for celebrating to--a pop lover's dream.

Next up: maybe off to Asia or sticking in Sweden.


Aaron said...

A few thoughts:

1. That photo should have been the album cover

2. The album sounds fantastic

3. I can't wait to hear it, you've got me desperate for it now

4. Really desperate

5. I wish the Euro would trade better with the australian dollar.......

Paul said...

i really want this album. i was only really paying attention to velvet with The Queen single which has really grown on me. There is such a massive glut of quality albums out right now i feel i am not giving them the proper attention they deserve. I haven't listened to Alcazar since Tuesday night!!!!!!

Len W said...

It's easy to take Velvet for granted, since there always seems to be a rather great single by her hovering around the edges of the top charts and near the top of the dance club rotation.

But the remarkable thing about the album is hearing ALL those great songs together. It makes you respect Jenny all the more...

Poster Girl said...

Ha ha, Aaron, you always leave such great comments! I like the album cover they went with, but this shot is a good one, too. And forget about any sort of economic consequences: I'm right there with you on wishing the Euro would get weaker ;)

Paul, hey, at least she's got your attention now--that's all that matters! It's a sudden rush of amazingness, definitely, but I'll take that over the underwhelming first half of 2008 we had albums-wise.

Len, after all my rambling, you've written succinctly exactly what I wish I had said. I have absolutely fallen into the trap of taking her for granted, but then...well, it's exactly as you say with this album. You really should be providing some sort of regular music/Sweden commentary somewhere.

D'luv said...

I almost did a Velvet post yesterday, but thought, even if I do, I'll just have to defer to you, since this is such a classy writeup.

Maybe I'll just post a pic of her boobs, not write anything, and link the photo up to your post?

(You think I'm kidding, but...)

Poster Girl said...

D'luv, that's so sweet! You'd do that for me?

(Thanks for the "classy" descriptor, by the way, though I think "rambling" or "self-indulgent without letting you know what the songs sound like at all" might have been more accurate.)

Kumiko Mae said...

I was reading my blog, checking if there were some stuff I had to correct about it ( and after doing so I check the recommended posts. Yours was one of it. I was very inrigued by your blog title so I bothered check it out.

I've been missing music the entire day. Your post was rejuvenating for me. :)


Pay me a visit anytime