Over the course of a long career in pop music, Johan Angergård has tried his hand at many styles and mastered them all. He's done melancholic dream pop with Club 8, feedbacky noise pop with the Legends, and candy-sweet indie pop with Acid House Kings; now he's trying out capital-"P" pop with Eternal Death. Working with vocalist Elin Berlin, Angergård creates a sound that's synth-heavy and references vintage acts like Human League, while being plugged directly into the current scene populated by bands like Chvrches and Purity Ring. Built around percussion that pummels and walls of synths that can be woozily overpowering, Eternal Death isn't easy listening, even though the melodies are hooky and Berlin delivers the lyrics with a light, fluttery, and helium-pitched touch. As one might guess from the name, there's a strong current of sadness and darkness running through both the sound and the lyrics. Pick pretty much any song and it's sure to be bleak at heart, sometimes overpoweringly so. Paired with the synths that don't leave much breathing room, Berlin's aching voice, and the words, it makes for pop music that doesn't pop as much as it sadly weeps in the corner, waiting for some kind of deliverance. There are moments when Angergård and Berlin lift their heads up and almost sound like they are having fun, like on the death disco stompers "Head" and "Cry," or the almost airy '50s-style ballad "Love." The album could have used a few more moments like these to balance out the gloom, but mostly it holds together well and the mood of abject sadness is transmitted with impressive skill. With Eternal Death, Angergård is the closest he's ever been to the mainstream of pop music and it's pretty clear from the sound of the album that it belongs there, right next to the new wave of bands who milk the synth pop past for all the gloom they can while still sounding super-sleek and modern.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra