Håkan Hellström

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The fifth album by Swedish indie pop singer/songwriter Håkan Hellström is his first set of new material in over three years (2005's Nåt Gammalt, Nåt Nytt, Nåt Lånat, Nåt Blått was a collection of outtakes and rarities released to coincide with a brief retirement), but it fits in quite neatly with his earlier efforts. Possessing a somewhat odd voice that often sounds uncannily like Marc Bolan, Hellström can't help but have a slightly skewed take on the McCartneyesque pure pop that's his main musical wellspring. But unlike countrymen like I'm from Barcelona or even the lesser material of Jens Lekman, Hellström never sounds forced in his occasional eccentricity, even on tracks like the multi-part epic "Sång I Buss På Villovägar 2007" and the echoey, lo-fi percussion workout "Dom Fyra Årstiderna" (which sounds not unlike Sigur Rós under the influence of Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecelia"). More typical are cleverly arranged and catchy gems like "Tro Och Tvivel" and the graceful title track. Not everything works -- the closing "Inte Skyldig Nån Nåt" sounds too much like one of those forced and unconvincing rockers Billy Joel used to bury on the B-sides of his albums -- but fans won't be disappointed.

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