By Nolan Siegler
It wouldn’t be a far-fetched statement to say that Gothenburg has provided some of the best Swedish pop albums in the past decade.
Albums from The Tough Alliance, Air France and The Honeydrips created a specific indie-pop scene full of sunny melodies and heartfelt lyrics. Although some beloved artists would further their melodic interests by remixing or by starting record labels (Sincerely Yours), they no doubt owe much of their success to The Embassy.
Often considered to be the fathers of new Swedish pop, The Embassy debuted in 2001 with an EP, gaining the attention of acclaimed label Service. The pop-duo then released Futile Crimes in 2002, which cemented the distinct yearn of vocalist Fredrik Lindson with blissful pop structures. Second album, Tacking, followed in 2005 and featured “Some Indulgence,” a song that defines the essence of Service as a Swedish record label.
Although The Embassy’s discography contains only two studio albums, many non-album singles seem to have fallen through the cracks. Life in the Trenches collects all of the duo’s rarities and hard-to-find tracks onto one album, without sounding like a typical singles or b-sides collection.
Album opener and previous single “You Tend to Forget” shares a consistency seen throughout much of The Embassy’s small discography. Breathy female moans and a favoritism of African sounds are unlikely elements of a catchy pop song, but complement each other graciously, setting a unique tone to the album.
Following tracks key in on sensibilities that most fans of Jens Lekman or Studio will find familiar. Bouncy bass lines and crystalline synths are mixed with a lo-fi production that adds character rather than acting as a cliché.
Life in the Trenches achieves what other compilations can only attempt to do. It’s cohesive enough to stand alone, while simultaneously fitting in with The Embassy’s previous work like a piece to a pop-puzzle. By providing outstanding gems of overlooked tracks, Life in the Trenches serves as a solid connection point between full-lengths albums and the Swedish pop scene.