Ace of Base

Da Capo

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Named after the musical term for "back to the beginning," Swedish pop outfit Ace of Base's fourth studio album, Da Capo, stays faithful to its title, thanks to a sound that harks back to the lilting Euro reggae-pop of their mid-'90s heyday. This old-school approach may explain why the follow-up to 1998's more eclectic Flowers was only given a soft release in the U.K. and failed to see the light of day at all in the U.S.A. (both previously two of their biggest territories), with record company executives, who were already responsible for its two-year delay, claiming the band's output was no longer relevant. But while most of its 12 tracks are unashamedly stuck in the previous decade, particularly the bouncy lead single "Unspeakable," their ska-pop cover of Black's "Wonderful Life," and the flamenco-tinged "Show Me Love," their Anglo-American fans are missing out on some of the best work of their career. "Beautiful Morning" is a Max Martin-esque polished pop anthem, complete with rousing gospel finale, dedicated to the three Berggren siblings' late father; the title track is a pulsing fusion of techno beats, chugging guitars, and twinkling synths; and, best of all, "The Juvenile" is a reworking of their intended James Bond theme for 1995's Goldeneye, whose sinister John Barry-esque strings and haunting melodies are more than a match for the Tina Turner number that was chosen ahead of it. Da Capo was to be the final swan song for original vocalists Linn and Jenny, but while it undeniably sounds like it's stuck in a mid-'90s time warp, it's a consistently feel-good affair ensuring that the pair went out on a high.

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