Club 8 Club 8The People's Record
Climbing on the bandwagon of tropicalism at this stage of the game might sound opportunistic. But not in a case like Club 8, a band that had dived head-first into its own dead-end street with electronic twee and dreamy bossa pop in the line of Saint Etienne or Trembling Blue Stars. This is a field where Swedes have rarely managed to measure up in comparison with other bands - the aforementioned, or Belle & Sebastian - in the midst of a pastel emotional languor. In fact, it could well be considered that it was fellow countrymen, jj, who took over the legacy (and that of many others) and twisted it around in a devilish way until, using a very sharp sense of cool (both literally and figuratively), until they transcend everything that Club 8 never transcended, in spite of the good intentions.
What to do after six albums and a solid, though admittedly somewhat stagnant, career? To start with, Club 8 showed signs that they were no longer taking themselves so seriously with the launching of “The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming” (Labrador, 2007). They came out of their ivory tower and began to give interviews. From there it was a small, but decisive step to hold their last session of promo photos, where Johan Angergard (in turn, leader of The Legends and head of the Labrador label) and Carolina Kornstedt dance animatedly with two guys dressed up like bears or dogs, or something that isn’t too clear. A real change in attitude that is also reflected in a musical change of course—it’s enough to press “play” for the first song to be surprised by the gust of tropical shrapnel that opens the album, the first few minutes of “ Western Hospitality.”
“The People’s Record” is one of those rollercoaster rides where intricate rails take you upside down and you scream and kick, while having a great fucking time. After a career accustomed to the typical ups and downs, without surprises, the new taste of Club 8 for samba, Latin sweat, afro-beat, and the carnivals of Rio implies a stimulating shift that will convince the faithful and obligate those who have never paid attention to the Swedish duo to sit up and take notice. And to watch their feet. Especially that. Because “The People’s Record” is a party aimed not at the dance floor, but rather at the sand next to the ideal beach bar on Formentera where we all dream of ending the day during our summer holidays. The album opens with three aces, laying the groundwork for the rest of the record. The aforementioned “Western Hospitality” is flanked by the sublime “ Isn’t That Great?” (where the tribalist percussion begins to take charge, along with the tropical guitars, maracas, and more summery instruments), and " Shape Up” (with a delicious play of accelerations and breaks that gets you stuck on it faster than heroin candy at the school door). From there on, despite a couple of low spots where the Spirit of Christmas Past takes over certain songs, tainting them with a slightly neutral languor that reminds us of the band’s (good?) old days, “The People’s Album” ends up becoming a frenetic lesson in how to do a stand-up job with that pop in which a brilliant form contrasts with a dark background. Because if anyone had a doubt, however much Club 8’s songs come in beach-party wrapping paper, their lyrics continue to be a real downer. Just check out titles like “ My Pessimistic Heart” or “ We’re All Going To Die.”
Goodbye to Swedish fog… welcome to the Brazilian sun. “The People’s Record” is a new start for Club 8’s biography and discography—it is opening a window for fresh air and realising that your South American neighbours are having a party on the roof-top. And although the album continues to live in the land of references ( Suburban Kids With Biblical Names and—why not? Extraperlo if it left the 80’s to explore a more luminous tropicalism, close at times to the sensual skirmishes of the more playful Gainsbourg), we must admit that the sandals and swimsuits look really good on Angergard and Kornstedt. A new version of an old band. Will we have to start talking, then, about a Club 9? Raül De Tena