Peter Morén

The Last Tycoon

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In case you left your scorecard at home, Peter Morén is the Peter of Swede pop superstars Peter Bjorn and John, and The Last Tycoon is his first solo album. If you are wondering if there are any Young Folks-style confections on the record, stop reading now. There aren't. It's a stripped down, intimate affair recorded over a few years when Morén could find the time, and it sounds very different than the music he plays in his day job. Instead of power pop and new wave influences, here Morén is indebted to the psychedelic end of the folk spectrum and '70s singer/songwriters, as the songs are built on acoustic guitars and Morén's plaintive, vulnerable voice. Even though the songs are filled in with keyboards, the occasional string section, and stray instrument like harmonica or vibes, the tunes sound small and intimate like they are pouring directly from Morén's heart to the listener's ear. Sort of like Nick Drake that way. While the sound may be a million miles from PB and J, Morén's ear for a catchy melody doesn't desert him, neither does his knack for capturing emotions in a few well-chosen words. Indeed a great many of the tracks here are the equal of his work with PB and J: the romantic and swoony "Missing Link," the lilting "Tell Me in Time," or the starkly melancholy "My Match" all qualify. The peppy and almost rocking "Social Competence" actually would fit right in on a PB and J record and be one of its highlights. Even the lesser songs on the album are worthwhile, though his dip into French on "Le Petit Coeur" may conjure bad memories of McCartney's "Michelle," but that may not be a bad thing for every listener. Certainly not enough to sully an otherwise excellent album from a gifted singer/songwriter. Often times the first solo album to emerge from a group spells the end of the unit, hopefully that won't be the case here and Morén can carry on making spectacular pop albums with Peter Bjorn and John, as well as issuing solo albums as pretty and emotionally powerful as The Last Tycoon.

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