For their third LP, Sweden’s Lacrosse have gone all-out down pop boulevard. The sextet have spent the past four years writing and honing and recording Are You Thinking Of Me Every Minute Of Every Day?, trialling tracks on the road and letting them evolve organically. It’s a lengthy process, but they’ve emerged from the time off with an arsenal of twinkling hooks, honeyed vocals and twiddly fretwork.
Some critics have drawn parallels between Lacrosse and fellow countrymen I’m From Barcelona as well as Texan pop-cult Polyphonic Spree, and they’re not completely unsubstantiated claims. The backdrop that provides the surrounding aural paraphernalia is expansive, sprawling and of life-affirming grandiosity, the kind of noises Arcade Fire would peddle if they were to unclench and unwind.
Opening the record is Don’t Be Scared. Lacrosse have pilfered post-rock structures for the initial burst of energy of the record, with climactic sweeping strings and slow-burning rhythms steadily igniting into cacophonous walls of jubilant noise. It’s an anthem in every sense of the word. Theramins howl, cellos buzz and the entwined vocals duck and weave like dolphins swimming alongside a yacht, every now and again peering from the teal brine for a brief glimpse of daylight. Lacrosse are tightly choreographed here, and in their wilder moments they resemble Broken Social Scene, even if only fleetingly.
Unfortunately, they never quite replicate the first explosion of glory. The music’s not terrible, but they’re a bit quick on the draw, opening with their most superior effort. Everything’s rather downhill from there. I Told You So (Didn’t I?) is saccharine and drenched in a twee purée, like some mitten knitted by Zooey Deschanel. Occasionally Los Campesinos! squeak through in the background, but that doesn’t wash the sickly-sweet flavour away by any stretch. I Need Your Heart/I Need Your Soul falls further, a glitchy-pop janglefest sugarier than bon bons.
Things do pick up again, however, and the sixsome lunge out of the twee realms they were lost in, for tracks like bombastic electropop ditty Give You More and the sublime finalé Easter Island. These are slower, a pensive respite from the hyperactive rainbows combusting beforehand. Floor toms echo beneath the crooning male/female duet, and there are precious few other elements; in its simplicity, it succeeds. The age-old maxim of less is more is especially relevant here, and though the record has its share of pitfalls, they end on a high.
The length of time they’ve taken over this album appears to have been a detrimental factor, resulting in chronic overegged pop-sludge, where there’s just too much going on at once to be able to appreciate it fully. It seems like Lacrosse have struggled to tread the tightrope between effervescent and suffocating. “The songs mirror the times we’ve lived in, but the general idea behind this album is unselfish love in times of extreme self-centering. The whole process was very organic, with the feeling that anything was possible,” say the band. It’s a noble notion indeed, but translating it into music has, on this evidence, been tough.
Still, in spite of the editing issues Lacrosse have (in every facet – Are You Thinking Of Me Every Minute Of Every Day? is quite a mouthful), they’re endearing. It’s an unnameable quality, and even though this isn’t a spectacular record (though Don’t Be Scared is spectacular), you’ll find yourself listening for a long time. Far longer than you might expect yourself to. They may leave something of an aftertaste, like Snack-A-Jacks, but they’re somehow, inexplicably, insistently moreish. Like Snack-A-Jacks.