Minor Majority

Candy Store

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Minor Majority's musical m.o. -- elegant, intimate, acoustic folk-pop -- remained virtually unchanged between their 2001 debut release and this 2007 compilation, released in the wake of their most successful album to date, 2006's Reasons to Hang Around (which has seven of its thirteen tracks reprised here, including an alternate version of "Don't Say You Love Me" and the Norwegian Top Twenty singles "Supergirl" and "Come Back to Me"). The group swelled from a duo to a quintet over that period, so their more recent work is somewhat more fleshed out, or at least more likely to include drums; they've also picked up a bit of studio polish along the way. But even their first album, Walking Home from Nicole (represented here by "What I Deserve" and the superb, misleadingly titled "Electrolove," which is redolent of early Elliott Smith) featured strings, pianos, and the lovely vocals of Karen Jo Fields, augmenting and sweetening their hushed melancholy without disrupting the sense of sparseness. That penchant for well-placed adornments that brighten up otherwise potentially despondent numbers -- the Mark Knopfler-esque guitar work on "(In That) Premature Way," "Alison"'s lush accordion and sprightly banjo -- has continued to serve them well. From the beginning of the first disc of this set, which comprises selections from each of their four albums (they're not sequenced chronologically), even the subtle progression that does exist is effectively obscured, but it's a perfectly sensible decision that results in an exquisitely smooth listen. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about this Norwegian group might be their consistency: the second disc, which collects non-album "nuggets" from throughout their career, is nearly as impressive the first. Their music may be far from revolutionary, but their approach is always consummate and tasteful, and any fan of sophisticated melancholy who doesn't mind the occasional touch of gloss would do well to investigate them. Candy Store is as good a place to start as any.

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