Oh Alright, the debut album from Sweden's Le Kid, jumps back and forth between lush, swoony mid-tempos, cheeky '60s kitsch, and day-glo '80s pop. As you'd expect from from a group whose "background" members are three of Sweden's best up-and-coming songwriters, the highlights are stunning. The jubilantly bouncy "We Should Go Home Together" updates Stock-Aitken-Waterman with a wink but also with so much joy that the group reveals a real affection for that sound, as well as an understanding of what made its best examples work. "Mercy Mercy," the group's debut single, is a cheery, summer-ready improvement on Girls Aloud's "Can't Speak French." Perhaps Le Kid's greatest work yet, though, is their fourth single. "America" takes the cosmic ice princess disco longing in Kylie Minogue's "The One" and melts it into something just as beautiful and sparkly but also warm-blooded, making its underlying plea for love all the more powerful in the process.
If outside the context of the album the retro pastiches "Oh My God," "Kiss Me," and "Seventeen" at first seemed a little juvenile or not quite up to par with the swooshy pop-dance of "Telephone" or the Gwen-Stefani's-"Cool"-meets-orchestral-strings of "Escape," their quality somehow becomes more apparent when they crop up in the midst of Oh Alright. Their demanded-replay-value still suffers in comparison to the rest of the album, but their charms, particularly those of "Oh My God," pop a bit more, too.
Elsewhere, "Bigger Than Jesus" is another soaring disco reverie, with a chugging electronic beat outpacing the restrained coos of singers Johanna and Helena. A bonus track version of the Killers' "Mr. Brightside" works surprisingly well both on its on terms and in creating a desire for more Le Kid covers. Still, it's "We Are The Drums," another of the group's consistently great songs even if not the acme of their work, that sums up Le Kid's potential: "we are the chords and the lyrics and the melodies," they sing in their mini-anthem, practically daring you to disagree with the affirmation that they're the beat you run your life to. If they can keep making material that so effectively sums up the joys of pop music, they really will be.
Le Kid's debut album, Oh Alright, comes out August 17 in Sweden. Preorder it here.