Speedmarket Avenue

Way Better Now

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

If Speedmarket Avenue's second album Way Better Now included nothing but the title track and nine dogs, it would still be worth a listen. The Swedish sextet displays an amazing sense of drama, guts, and fervor on "Way Better Now," the kind that instantly gets you to drop what you are doing and take notice of the song and the band. In the transient world of pop music of the late 2000s, this kind of song is an absolute necessity if you want to survive for even a little while. Fortunately for the band and the listener, the remaining tracks on the album aren't dogs at all. Instead, they are first-rate slices of indie rock and pop that range from icy synth-coated epics ("Sirens"), heartbroken ballads ("Don't Fall in Love"), quiet girl group-influenced duets ("The State of Harmony"), and smart assed put-downs ("Enlightened & Left-Wing Indeed") to bubbling indie rockers ("Accident, No Drama") and achingly beautiful laments ("Final Wall"). Though the band is fronted by male/female vocals and uses the standard indie pop formation of guitars, bass, and drums with trumpet and keys, they never fall into any easy clich├ęs or end up sounding like anyone else. Well, maybe fellow Swedes Shout Out Louds as they share a sense of theatrical drama and play each song like it's the last they'll ever play. In other words, they display total commitment at all times, whether it's Isak Klasson and Sibille Atter's vocals, the rhythm section's furious drive, or the overall punch to the album's sound thanks to producer Jari Haapalainen. Though it might be easy to write off the group as just another Swedish indie band, Speedmarket Avenue proves to be much more than run of the mill and Way Better Now turns out to be one of the underappreciated gems of pop music in 2008.

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