Review : El Perro Del Mar - Love Is Not Pop
PitchforkDeath, taxes, and life's other inevitability: break-up records. Sad-eyed Swede Sarah Assbring already has one under her belt, if you count 2005 Scandinavian release Look! It's El Perro Del Mar! (later refashioned with a slightly different tracklisting in the UK and North America as the self-titled El Perro Del Mar). But that's the thing about break-ups and, by extension, break-up records: At the time each feels like a cataclysm to end all cataclysms, the definitive statement on cessation. Yet in light of the next one-- and, God help us, chances are there will be a next one-- all the ones before can seem quaint, trite, overblown, and anything but definitive. So it makes sense that Assbring should craft another ode to getting over it, just as it makes a certain sad kind of sense that the gal who sang of being sad all day long (and thinking about being sad all night long) and suggested loneliness can be pretty would again find herself in a position to make such a record. Refreshingly, Love Is Not Pop does indeed make what came before it seem quaint, representing a significant maturation for El Perro Del Mar both in sonics and sentiments. If Look!/ El Perro Del Mar was Assbring rebounding from a failed high school romance to the tune of a candy bender and the familiar, comforting sounds of 1960s pop music, Love documents a more complicated, post-collegiate parting of ways against the more sophisticated sounds of late nights and dancefloors, courtesy of co-producer (and Studio half) Rasmus Hägg.
For one thing, she initiates this one. "I've got something to tell you," Assbring begins over gentle acoustic strums and rays of synth sunshine on Love opener "Gotta Get Smart". "Don't wanna make you sad." Of course what she has to say will do just that, but like many an El Perro Del Mar song, this one adorns its lyrical miseries in only the most uplifting of arrangements. When much of the mix drops out to let Assbring deliver the kicker-- "It hurts now but deep down inside/ We both know it's better to part than live in a lie"-- she sounds like the patron saint of mercy, and when a chorus of multi-tracked vocals arrives to invite us to "Go on, go on, go on," it's as if they're leading us to the promised land. Getting dumped never sounded better. From there it's on to piano-and-groove album highlight "Change of Heart" and the dubbed-out midnight excursion "L Is for Love", its echoes suggesting the infinity of a night spent teasing apart those great questions of life and love in search of an elemental clarity. "Love isn't anything," the chorus would seem to mock here. Least of all pop?...full text
RedefinemagMany of the best albums this year have been from female singers or female-fronted rock bands, and El Perro Del Mar is not going to let 2009 slip away without chiming in. Love is Not Pop is the latest and most progressive of a series of delicate, beautiful pop albums by the Swedish singer (known in more layman terms as Sarah Assbring). The EP, made up completely of love songs -- of love lost and love found, to be precise -- is unbelievably likable upon first listen. It sounds fresher and more modern than her previous, with more electronic elements and less rigid song structures. The title, Love is Not Pop, seems rather ironic considering how much like "pop" the songs are; but the sounds are sweeter and more tripped out, broadening her horizons to extend beyond those in a hip club in the middle of Brooklyn.
On the opener, "I Gotta Get Smart," you can feel the passion, sense the sadness, and almost taste the sweetness dripping from her voice. She sounds "smarter" -- almost sly and tricky -- on the second track, "Change of Heart," which aligns with the more downtempo feel of the music itself. "L is for Love" is even more mysterious, with her saccharine voice contrasting directly with synthy beats and echoing keyboards. The vocal layering is a prominent feature here and on "Let me In," both sinister songs despite their more upbeat subject matters. "Heavenly Arms" is a nostalgic return to an '80s feel, which is prevalent in a lot of her songs....full text
ReadingsI must confess that I have an obsession with El Perro Del Mar. Her self-titled debut is essential listening, whimsical and introverted as it is.
This third release shows a more mature-sounding El Perro. Listening to the track Heavenly Arms, I am reminded of vintage Kate Bush. This is a beautiful record....full text
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