We Brits have got a lot to thank the Swedish for: what with furniture giant Ikea finally convincing us to ‘chuck out that chintz’, Ulrika providing our tabloids with acres of front-page footage, Sven gallantly leading our ‘Lions’ out to battle (debateable, admittedly) and tens of thousands of male fantasies involving nubile nude blondes slapping each other frantically with branches and bark.
Then there’s the perennial The Soundtrack of Our Lives: Swedish, but among the finest purveyors of Britpop around.
Hell, they’re even one of Noel Gallagher’s favourite bands. And it’s easy to see why: their output is Oasis-esque, yet more refined, with a few more ooh-ooh, doos and daa-daas for good measure.
The album opens with Believe I’ve Found, a deceptively catchy song that I found myself humming on the bus, full of guitar riffs, vocal hooks and making the most of big-Oasis at its finest: bonus points for added sophistication but lacking the love it or hate him element that Liam’s snarling, self-adoring swagger brings to the Manc band.
Track three is recent single Bigtime, a pounding rock stomer with a big chorus and political slant to the lyrics; a mile away from the band’s earlier trademark psychedelia.Perhaps the finest, least expected track on the disc is Midnight Children (Enfants De La Nuit), a brash, barefaced attempt at a modern-day Je T’aime. The band’s even roped in co-vocalist Jane Birkin of the former to guest star on the latter. The result is a fantastic duet that stands out, a touch of the different among a collection of similar songs.
And therein lies the problem with Origin: original it ain’t. While each track is pleasant and professional in itself, heard together they become tiresome. By track nine, Wheels of Boredom, I found myself agreeing with the sentiment, if not the song. Bear-like singer Ebbot Lundberg’s deep, throaty voice is beginning to grate and there seems little to distinguish one track from the next. A shame.
A decade and five albums on the Swedish rockers remain at the top of their genre: they’re more Britpop than the brothers Gallagher, Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker et al bound, gagged and saturated in a vat of freshly brewed Ben Shaw’s shandy.
But as slick Sven has been tarnished by sleaze, Ulrika’s lost her front-page pull and Ikea becomes all too commonplace, perhaps Britpop has lost its sparkle.