Think of Sweden and music and you automatically come up with ABBA. Of course we’ve also had Europe, Roxette, Ace of Base, The Cardigans, and a number of death metal bands like Opeth permeating into our radios and CD collections. To find out that any of the above are Swedish upon your first listen would not be a great shock, however to discover that Amadine are would be a completely different thing.
The four-piece from the city of Umea, in the north east of the country, must have lived in southern America in a previous life as they are themost authentic sounding non-Americans you are likely to hear. The band play a brand of acoustic pop which leans heavily in the direction of alt-country and is very un-Swedish.
Despite being originally formed four years ago, under the guise of the name Wichita Linemen, which should have been a clue to the type of soundthey’d make, This Is Where Our Hearts Collide is the band’s debut long player.
It took a series of demos being sent to, at first, unreceptive record labels and a couple of changes in personnel to reach this point but thealbum is finally here, being released on the same Fat Cat label that houses Icelandic wonders Sigur Ros and Mum, as well as the zany Animal Collective with whom Amandine have toured.
This album bares little resemblance to those of their stablemates, being a much less complex release. While Sigur Ros opt for thegrandiose approach, Amandine go for the striped down, and while the result is far from groundbreaking it’s a very competent and soothing collection ofsongs.
The album opens with For All The Marbles, with its gently-strummed guitars, violins and delicate vocals from singer Olof Gidlof setting atone which continues throughout the entire record. The atmospheric Halo, the single that preceded the album, offers more strings and heart-renderingvocals reminiscent of some of Low‘s more low-fi moments.
There is more than a hint of Neil Young in Amandine’s material too. Blood And Marrow could quite easily have fitted in on Harvest Moon, as could my personal favourite, Firefly – a very understated song but one as beautiful as anything you will hear this year, with a wonderful melody to boot.
The melancholic nature of the album constantly tugs at the heart strings with Easy Prey and Stitches, the latter reaching an emotional peak withthe rising sound of brass midway through, being symbolic of the whole release. Over The Trenches is another gentle tune which builds slowly, and it’sfair to say that if you like one song you will like them all – all are well crafted but offer little variation.
The liveliest moments on the album occur on Fine Lines, featuring a twist at the end with a beautiful piano solo which leads into the followingtrack, and jaunty final track Heart Tremor. With accordion to the fore, this one will certainly be one for the fans to sway too when it is played ontour.
Currently on a short tour of America, the band have already visited Europe and are bound to boost sales of their album if they can transfer their studio form to the live stage. This Is Where Our Hearts Collide is not spectacular but will melt many a heart and is an impressive debut.