Sweden is arguably best known for its exceptional musical reputation (*cough* ABBA *cough) and it seems like Red Sleeping Beauty, with their already long history are adding to that reputation. Named after the ‘80’s Marxist band McCarthy, Red Sleeping Beauty has returned with Stockholm, their 4th album in 30 years, an album that shies away from their previous go-to’s of vintage synth and old drum machines.
Subliminal catchiness is the aim of the game on “New York City Girls”. A live city track introduces this heavy electro song, placing you firmly in the middle of the city that never sleeps. An electro oboe pulls you in while the track turns into full ‘80’s electro nostalgia. The sweet, somewhat innocent vocals are Pet Shop Boys-esque, serving as a distraction from the predictable synth line. While not as catchy as the other tracks on the album, it is subtlety infectious, the kind of song that plays in the background and without noticing, you’re singing it to yourself in the car. And if we’ve learned nothing from Swedish music is that catchiness is important, by any means necessary.
Subtle catchiness is non-existent on the title track, “We are Magic”. Armed with dance-pop beats and with one of the catchiest choruses I have heard in a while, it is an all but certain club hit. It is an O.M.D. infused dance track that sounds like it comes straight from one of Stockholm’s underground clubs. Along with its catchy chorus and polished electro synth and bass, this is definitely a track that will be heard in clubs for some time.
Released pre-album last year, “Always on Your Side” is another banger. It follows on from “We are Magic” with another catchy chorus and a bridge that will stay in your head for days. The vocals on the track are peppy, to say the least, while the synth is used to ground the track in pure indie-pop. What strikes me about this track is its youthful quality. Each element can be identified to have been belonging to some part of musical history but the vocals are so wholesomely indie, it creates a whole new experience.
The hidden gem of the album is “Tell Me Lies”. On first listen, the intro is fairly generic but the vocals that kick in making the track sound like a musical number covered by an indie-dance band, like an electro-Les Miserablés. It then pops straight into a very 80’s piano synth staccato, creating a chorus that Robin Sparkles would be jealous of. The chorus is seeping in ‘80’s pop and has made me smile on every listen. Listening to this track is a journey with no known destination but the journey is thoroughly enjoyable.
Most bands formed in the ’80s, who still make music today have shied away from the 80’s sounds but Red Sleeping Beauty’s ‘80’s heart is firmly on their sleeve. This album is a futuristic journey through a time that once seemed so far away and do you know what? It works. Stockholm successfully balances nostalgia with refined pop to create an album that belongs firmly in the ‘10’s.