When We Are Serenades' Adam Olenius and Markus Krunegard first got together to write songs, they knew that as a pair of songwriters used to running the show in their old bands, they would need some set of rules to guide them. With this in mind, the two created a kind of creative dogma for themselves to follow, demanding that the music be positive and bombastic, and that the pair should both be singing at all times. It's through this set of pop rules that we have their debut album, Criminal Heaven, which finds them delivering a set of sugary sweet and carefully thought out pop gems that perfectly capture the feelings the band sought to create with their self-imposed restrictions. Ebullient and hopeful, the album is pure springtime, with Olenius and Krunegard's dual voices coming together to give every song a joyful, choral vibe. Throughout all of this, the pair manages to keep the album from spinning out of control into rhapsodic, Polyphonic Spree-esque exaltations by keeping the vibe relatively laid-back. Focusing on atmosphere, artful arrangements, and tight production, We Are Serenades strike just the right balance between pop grandeur and restraint, creating wide open sonic spaces for their songs to exist without feeling like they have to fill them to the brim with sound. This "less is more" approach shows off the wealth of songwriting these two have cultivated in their other projects, and makes Criminal Heaven a beautifully blissful debut that is warm, comforting, and typically Swedish in the best way possible.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney