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June 2, 2010

Popmatters.com | Club 8: The People's Record

By Dave Heaton | 17 May 2010
PopMatters Associate Music Editor

...Now here they are with an album clearly inspired by the rhythms and guitar sound of African music. That’s obvious right off the bat on the opening song, “Western Hospitality”, even to someone like me, an ethnomusicologist by no means. They’ve clearly taken inspiration from the music of other parts of the world, without completely abandoning their standard musical personality, if that were even possible. This approach continues throughout the album, their first recorded using a producer besides themselves (Jari Haapalainen, who produced Camera Obscura’s brilliant Let’s Get Out of This Country). What’s striking about The People’s Record isn’t just how different it sounds. It’s how familiar it sounds while also sounding different.

Actually, what’s most notable is how well this combination works. In 2010, it isn’t shocking for any musician, or music fan, to splice genres, to mix and match. Still that doesn’t make every combination makes sense. Swedish pop plus African rhythms doesn’t necessarily make sense, but in Club 8’s hands it seems seamless and natural, yet also fresh. “Western Hospitality” marks this as party music that manages to also be thoughtful. Komstedt’s singing like she’s deep inside her own thoughts, but they’re not just about a broken heart or personal struggle. As the music makes the album seem more outward-looking, so do the lyrics. “One day we’ll come to the point when we know what we’re waiting for”, Komstedt sings, over a big, boisterous groove of a song. “We’ll march through the cities”, she sings like she’s leading a movement. The song ends with the voices of people talking.

If this is The People’s Record, music for street corners, that doesn’t mean the focus isn’t still on the way people feel, on the tough emotional roller coaster of life. “Isn’t That Great?”, the second track, sounds as much like party music as the first, but it’s about making a relationship work. As she sings, “I’m gonna take good care of you this time”, the flurry of musical activity behind her makes the intention to do better seem like a triumphant choice. Often, though, those personal feelings are put in a larger context of the crowd. “Shape Up!” might be a wakeup call just to one person, but it sounds like a call to us all, to speak up and get out of our everyday routines. Club 8 are doing the same in that moment and across The People’s Record: shaking themselves out of their routine, and shaking our expectations a bit, too...

Read the complete review here:

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