Soundtrack of Our Lives, Scala, London
Tuesday 25 August 2009
You can hear why Oasis heavily supported the Soundtrack of Our Lives a few years back. The brassy guitar sound tonight could come straight from the Gallaghers in their pomp. The debt to the dirty swagger of the early 1970s Faces and Stones must have counted in their favour too. But these veteran Swedes have a vitality that goes beyond their influences: an idealistic conviction in rock'n'roll's power. With burly, bearded singer Ebbot Lundberg to the fore, they could be refugees from the Swedish commune in Lukas Moodyson's film Together, insisting on counter-culture verities in the 21st century. Their fine new double-album, Communion, makes the point explicit, with its sinisterly bland photos of the corporate rich who repulse them.
They come on to white light flashes and dry ice. The first sight that assaults you is guitarist Mattias Barjed's Zapata moustache and red satin Who tour jacket, a potently ludicrous combination. In between playful messianic poses, self-styled "thunder bear" Lundberg proves a dainty and bashful frontman. But despite his band's sense of fun, they don't enter the outright parody of compatriots the Hives. This is gentler humour, inextricable from the psychedelic desire for transcendence that powers Communion. "Second Life Replay" makes this explicit, as Lundberg sings, "I killed myself today/ I had too many lives."
Pensive harpsichord-style keyboards and harmonies conjure mid-1960s baroque-pop, till the galloping ecstasy of its climax, the sound of a resurrection. New single "The Ego Delusion" takes a more familiar tack. It could be a great lost Oasis tribute to the Faces, but with the mess, dirt and drive they left behind. Its sunburst optimism is the Soundtrack of Our Lives' own, there in Lundberg's unusual rock voice, which sounds as if he is discovering, not declaiming. That innocence even powers the band's raucousness. Their committed swagger swings through the early 1970s to 1950s basics. The guitarists' synchronised star-jumps are a joke and an expression of joy. The strobe-heavy freak-out of "Mantra Slider" and pure prog of "Ra 88" are rare moments when the band's more cosmic ambitions genuinely dominate. But as great Swedish hippie bar-bands with delusions of grandeur go, the Soundtrack Of Our Lives remain the kings.
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