Azure Blue

Beyond the Dreams There's Infinite Doubt

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First things first: no one should be covering Sade's "By Your Side" ever again. Her version was perfect enough, then Beachwood Sparks' reinterpretation made it indie perfect. The Swedish indie poppers Azure Blue should have put the notion that a majestic synth pop take on the song would sound good back in the box of bad ideas from which it came. Mores the pity because the rest of their second album, 2013's Beyond the Dreams There's Infinite Doubt, is a synthy, poppy delight that needs no excuses. Tobias Isaksson, who was in the bands Laurel Music and Irene, clearly has a handle on how to construct simple, very hooky songs, then coat them in the finest post-New Order synthesizers for maximum impact. The album has the feel of a lost gem from a really good second-tier band from the mid-'80s that never got a break but was just as good as the bands that did make it. Sort of the same phenomenon his previous bands suffered from, since they never really hit either. Probably the same fate this band and record will suffer, which is too bad because Beyond the Dreams is just as good as any synth pop going in 2013. It might be a little too sunny to be taken seriously by the gloom-and-doom set, and songs like the sweetly romantic "Sunset" and the fluffy "Time Is on Our Side" are probably way too happy for the average synth pop fan. Indie pop fans who aren't averse to an absence of guitars should give the album a try though; the melodies and Isaksson's vocals are perfectly pop and the overall light tone makes the album very easy to embrace. Just make sure you skip over "By Your Side."

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