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This Perfect Day "C-60"; The Beatifics "How I Learned to Stop Worrying."

By Michael Henningsen

MARCH 2, 1998: 

Alibi Rating Scale:
!!!!!= Excellent
!!!!= Good
!!!= Fair
!!= Poor
!= Awful

This Perfect Day C-60 (Soap/Epic)

A couple years ago, the Alibi gave a positively scathing review to the Cardigans' U.S. debut, Life, calling it "a giant booger in the face of modern music." I really wish I could sit down with the reviewer and a big stack of Petula Clark, Astrud Gilberto and circa-1983 Cherry Red Records' albums and say: "See, this is what they're doing. Sorry it's not punk enough for you, but that doesn't invalidate it, OK?"

Sweden has a consistently brilliant pop scene, but it's mostly stayed underground over here. And it's varied, too: The Cardigans blaming it on the bossa nova, Komeda's arch lyrics and Stereolab-meets-Morricone tunes, Cloudberry Jam's superlush neo-Bacharach and the Wannadies' straight-ahead power pop. Then there's the manic-depressives in This Perfect Day.

This Perfect Day are the least "Swedish" of current Svenska popsters. Given one listen, you'd most likely guess they were yet another new post-Blur Britpop group. Singer Mats Eriksson even sounds kinda like Damon Albarn without the Paul Weller-derived vocal affectations. Meanwhile, the shuffling beat, guitar explosions and trumpet accents of the first single, "Down On My Knees," suggest what Oasis might sound like if they had talent for anything besides Beatles plagiarism.

C-60, the band's fourth album, features a dozen catchy pop songs given depth and weight by smart production touches (whining Moog on "Fishtank," horns on "So Naive," handclaps and harmonies everywhere) and a super-compressed sound favored by guitarists Rickard Johansson and Ove Markstrom that gives nearly every song an exciting contents-under-pressure edge. Titles like those above and the equally power-of-positive-thinking "Young and Stupid," "Break My Arm" and the ironically joyous "In Two Weeks You Will Be Forgotten" (probably the best song on the album) add to the, erm, fun.

Bouncy pop and dark lyrics often mesh extremely well--check out any Heavenly album! C-60 is a great addition to the Happy Music for Sad People canon, but bleak lyrics usually stand out in greater relief if there's some humor or other lightness mixed in with them, which forces me to dock This Perfect Day half a cuppa joe. !!!1/2

The Beatifics How I Learned to Stop Worrying

Eleven of you out there reading this--and you know who you are--have bragging rights now. In the future, when the Beatifics come up in conversation, you can say "Aw, I saw them when there were only 12 people there."

And we'll be saying this a lot in the years to come, because The Beatifics are going to be stars. Not top-10 MTV-friendly kinda stars, but in our little power-pop world, The Beatifics will be huge. Anyway, they'll be at least as big as the Posies, and unlike the Posies, they're not going to start sucking anytime soon.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying is a damn fine debut, full of choruses that scream "Listen to me or I'll tear your fucking throat out" mixed with big crunchy guitar riffs that won't leave your head for days and lighter-than-air harmonies that'll give you chills.

Henny asked in these very pages a few weeks back, "What is power pop?" I got yer power pop right here, pal. It's instructive to think of power pop as a big ol' musical Tootsie Roll Pop: a hard candy shell covering a sweet 'n' gooey center.

There's not a single duff track on this 11-song CD, but unlike some other recent power pop bands (the dull and uninspired Material Issue, the sometimes-clinical Sneetches or even the frustratingly perfect Shoes), the Beatifics know the power of dynamics. Effortlessly mixing full-on rockers (the Mary Tyler Moore-inspired--they're from Minneapolis, afterall--opener "Almost Something There") with Beatles-by-way-of-early-Elvis-Costello pop ("This Year's Jessica") with stops along the way for the downright alt-countryish "Crazy Lovesick Heart" and the ironically Husker-Du-ish "Green Day Rising," How I Learned to Stop Worrying neatly sidesteps the "Oh, more pretty harmonies and loud guitars ... how nice!" feeling that you get from less-inspired power-pop albums. It may be too soon to put the Beatifics in the pantheon, but one more album like this and several hundred people in the greater Albuquerque area will be claiming to have seen them when there were only 12 people there. !!!!1/2

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