Label: Labrador Release date: 23/02/10 Official Webstie Swedish people have given us so much good: a Muppet character, meatballs, lutefisk, IKEA, and a slew of other things. So it should come as no surprise to people who know their Swedes (and their pop music – like jj and Jens Lekman) that pop songsters Sambassadeur have made something that fits in with what you’d expect. Their latest offering, European, is a slice of bucolic, reverb-washed, homegrown pop that offers nothing new but is still damn pleasant. To put it all in perspective, the first sounds you get are a distantly reverberating piano that sounds like it might be from a CD cleaner disc, which then gives way to jangle pop with added strings – yes sir, this is a pop disc. Whereas other albums like Night Falls Over Kortedala or jj no. 2 made the use of reverb and strings part of the overall sound in a way that was rarely intrusive, this mix uses reverb like a weapon. Rather than even dream of making it a touch, it’s a way of life – everything is drenched in that loose hall feel, leading to an overall mash of sounds that recalls Stereolab caught in a subway. Moments like the downplayed ‘A Remote View’ and the track before it, ‘High and Low’ show better production choices and solid downtempo songs, but it’s when the songs begin to overwhelm you in the bad way that everything suffers. Sparing you, dear reader, from the full track-by-track rundown, it’s safe to say that if you aren’t a fan of this style you won’t like anything. Personally, at times the use of effects to make a small song huge leads to a sense of catharsis that I love in indie and dream pop – but it’s what I’ve come to expect from Sweden. Call me hard to please, but even the most minor of changes to the formula would have been the best thing ever (maybe a little comb delay on the vocals?). Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means a bad album, it’s just not something completely new. I’ll revisit this disc a few times in the future because it’s just so what I expect. Overall, a nice trip, but I’m fine off it for the most part. Photobucket