Roxette

Pearls of Passion

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Roxette's debut album, issued in late 1986, is a portrait of a band in its formative stages. Both Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson had previously pursued solo careers in their native Sweden, and Pearls of Passion was the band's attempt at international stardom. It was preceded in the summer by a very '80s pop single called "Everlasting Love," which became the band's first bonafide hit...at least within Sweden. When the album was released later that year, things were much the same; while the album was a hit in Sweden, the rest of the world failed to pay much attention at all. And listening to the album, it's not that hard to tell why: nothing here is bad, but it lacks nearly all of the elements that made albums like Joyride and Look Sharp into massive hits just a few years later. Roxette's most intriguing qualities are that they are a pop band that can rock and that Gessle is a crack songwriter that almost never produces a bad tune. Here, however, there's a lot of dry material and a lot of undistinguishable dance-pop. Their trademark gritty guitars are completely absent, and what results is really only three great songs: "Soul Deep" (which was later re-recorded for Joyride, "Everlasting Love," and the magnificent "Secrets That She Keeps." The rest, however, is of significant interest only to serious fans. (A 1997 reissue of the album includes eight bonus tracks, new album packaging, and liner notes from Per Gessle himself.)

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