Album Reviews

Sara Berg – When I Was A Small Child I Used To Feel Pleasure By Playing With Others

(Gaymonkey) UK release date: 8 October 2007

51HWAuxT-kL._SL500_AA300_“This is an album about dignity,” says Sara Berg, “having, losing, and struggling to regain dignity. It’s harder than you might expect to live as you please”. Berg’s emo-electronica strikes the right cord with troubled yet dance-ready youngsters. Her album hits the ground running and sends emotions soaring.

When I Was A Young Child I Used to Feel Pleasure From Playing With Others has already forced its way into the electronica-passionate, native Swedish market competing with fellow niched The Knife and Robyn.

The album will definitely take more than a few listens to take to as a whole – however there are a few bright moments in the eerie darkness. The energetic beats, impelling bass-lines to a synthesized-base, cements the dark-edged manifesto of the album.

It might not lift your sofa upside down, forcing you up on shaky legs to dance frantically out into the night but it will gently help you up and invite you to tap your feet whiles looking over a school-dance empty floor.

The single WIWAYCIUTFPFPWO (somewhat cumbersome) grasps with the notion of adulthood and the abandonment of the naiveté we have as children, and has got a strength and upbeat tempo that stands out and impresses. Berg’s music could have been a path into the unknown, a whispering promise of shadowy meadows where we can join together in pagan rituals, but unfortunately her voice drowns in an over-protective production and leaves much to be imagined.She is confident and reassuring but for her music to be convincing she needs to tread on uncertain grounds and allow herself to be exposed and vulnerable.

The electro march may still be joined by a loyal fanbase but hitherto it has been electro-splashed and trashed with rock/pop to make it so tasty you want to stay in the candy shop for ever and ever, just licking on different sparkling lollypops. In contrast, Berg’s music wants to fuse melancholic melodica with electro trips. After just three or four minutes you can suss out how the rest of the album will turn out.

The only wavy tops above troubled water are Crawl Back From Under; it manages to simmer up some activity of interest, though water treading is a skill Berg has learnt by heart.

Can’t Be Desire’s theme of ditching habits and to become ‘a lover of music’ grows on you, although the line “I am the queen of an army in hiding” mirrors the fact that this song never really leaves the ground. Even though a guitar is introduced on Closer To Home it still can’t escape the clutches of a pulsing and tinkling straitjacket that holds it too tight to breathe.

Not Alone starts of with an echoing, haunting folk rhythm, although some attacks of charisma, it lacks energy to sustain that and is quickly chucked in the ever growing filler-songs trash bin.

Berg’s moaning Monday morning soundtrack depicts a dark sonic landscape filled of low, chilled voice valleys and the odd electro topped trees, based on an emo earthed ground. It’s solid and confident but uneventful and undoubtedly boring. Perhaps Sara Berg should have just kept  at developing her record label and writing songs for others.

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Sara Berg – When I Was A Small Child I Used To Feel Pleasure By Playing With Others