Hari and Aino

Hari and Aino

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Hari and Aino's 2008 self-titled debut reveals a band (incidentally a five-piece group, not a duo as the name might imply) that sounds a lot like California Snow Story and Sambassadeur -- they're a quietly perky, bittersweet Swedish indie pop group with a smooth, sophisticated-sounding female lead vocalist (Andrea Dahlkild) and elegant, angular guitar licks. It's a sound that owes something to old-school indie pop like the Would-Be-Goods and Stereolab -- like these bands, Hari and Aino sound elegant, austere, and super smart. They also sound quite a bit like Fleetwood Mac, especially on tracks like "Seasons" and "Your Heartache and Mine"; it has something to do with the combination of muscular basslines, knotty guitar licks, and Dahlkild's vocals -- which, in their depth and jazziness, are nearly a dead ringer for Christine McVie's. On this disc, Hari and Aino are at their best when they don't just settle for easy hooks and throwaway lyrics ("Finland," "Hannah and I") and really let their intelligence and strangeness shine through. The mixtape-worthy "Second Song" is quietly thrilling -- it's complicated, sparse, angular, and as a result it's far more fun than any of the more obviously upbeat tracks on the album. Hari and Aino also handle disco really well -- the disco beat on tracks "Gold (Or Something Just as Nice)" and "Thank You for My Sisters" offers a fun, breezy contrast to the band's otherwise studied and prim sound.

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