Swedish bands have a knack for perpetuating certain popular misconceptions of their country, namely sub-zero temperatures, near-darkness and perpetual depression. The Perishers may be no exception, as they seem to find despair in, well, everything. Let There Be Morning may be all too familiar to some, but with its driving guitars, catchy choruses and infectious melodies, this solid effort ensures that the band is set to become a household name.
As a guilt-free mainstream pop culture maven, I don’t recall whether I was watching The O.C. or playing Sims 2 (in which Sway was featured in Simlish) when one of their tracks first caught my attention. I do remember thinking that they sounded like Snow Patrol (an oft-drawn analogy). However, this album is unmistakably Swedish, a sound not easy to replicate. While more placeable than, say, The Cardigans or Shout Out Louds, The Perishers’ sound is distinctive in that it is masterfully unembellished.
Opening track Weekends, a weary and delicate piano-driven ballad, is a perfect portrayal of the dissatisfaction underlying a drab and purposeless existence. In his breathy and dreamy voice, frontman Ola Klüft finds solace in the fact that; “Relief awaits you / Friday’s not that far away.” The track is beautifully somber – it’s nice to know that while we may not be rescued from our drone-like existences anytime soon, there are others who can empathise. Sort of like dragging others into a hole in the hopes of getting out of it.
Standout track Sway, with its catchy melody and sweeping chorus, is a spellbinding gem which questions whether a life-altering relationship can be salvaged. There is a glimmer of hope amidst the sadness, and Klüft’s lyrics cement the airiness which is very much definitive of the band: “I’ve always been a dreamer / I’ve had my head among the clouds / Now that I’m coming down / Won’t you be my solid ground?”
The navel-gazing and reminiscing continues in A Reminder and My Heart, slightly heavier tracks which provide the album with some much-needed subtle variation. As many of the tracks fall comfortably into the “sounds like Coldplay” category, detours such as the less pensive Nothing Like You and I are to be welcomed. However, wallowing in self-pity is clearly the band’s wheelhouse, evident by the debut single Trouble Sleeping. Prominently featured in the much-coveted ‘pimp spot’ (i.e. near the end) of an O.C. episode, this memorable track has all the makings of an indie pop hit. Klüft’s rich vocals compliment the melody impeccably, culminating in a catchy delight which you will coincidentally be hearing repeatedly in your dreams.
Admittedly, the band does slip out of character mid-album. The introspectiveness inherent in previous tracks appears to have been forsaken in Still Here, as Kluft warns; “So this world has left you bare / I’m sorry I no longer care / Take your problems somewhere else / I could use some help myself.” Going Out even sounds oddly motivational. But fear not, the album ends on a strong note as the Perishers revert to true form. Pills, a duet between Ola and his former vocal teacher Sara Isaksson, is stunning in its simplicity. A raw and sincere track which takes a glimpse at dealing with depression, Klüft and Isaksson’s mesmerizing vocals shine through the minimalist acoustic guitar accompaniment. The tearjerking title track Let There Be Morning begs the question; “Will I see another dawn? / Will I be reborn?” A quietly compelling effort to thaw even the iciest of hearts, and a beautiful way to end the ride.
No doubt, the comparisons to Keane, Travis and Snow Patrol are valid. Many will decry the Perishers’ sound as too familiar, verging on generic. Fine. But those who complain that they weren’t ensnared or wowed by the album are missing the point. The Perishers are out to sway you rather than to bowl you over. It’s nice to see that in today’s volatile music industry, where flashy gimmicks are everything, there are artists who still recognise that there is nothing quite as endearing as a simple, melodic album which is beautifully done.