Righteous Boy

I Sing Because of You

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After his full-time gig, the Cardigans, went on extended hiatus following 1998's Gran Turismo, bass player Magnus Sveningsson decided to exercise his long-dormant songwriting skills. The resultant set of compositions gradually became the basis for his first solo project, Righteous Boy, and its debut album, I Sing Because of You, a marvelous, moody bit of orchestral chamber pop that runs both eerily dark and sublimely light. One of the main reasons the music is such a treat is because Sveningsson assembled a tremendously sympathetic and versatile band for the occasion that included such friends as Henrik Andersson (Ray Wonder), Patrik Bartosch (Eggstone), Jens Jansson (Brainpool), and Nathan Larson (Shudder to Think). They effortlessly move between sinuous blues (the first stateside single, "Loved Among Friends"); Scandinavian dub for the downtrodden at heart ("No More Love," "Lone Among Friends"); shadowy, cinematic rock ("Elephant Man," "I Feel Apart") that cuts through thick electronic and psychedelic atmospheres; perfect downbeat ballads (the lovely haze "View from a Satellite" and slow-motion melancholia of "All My Evils"); the odd, chipper pop singalong ("Righteous Boy/Righteous Girl"); and stunning symphonic soul ("I Made It Hard for You to Love Me"), the ether of the songs consistently filled up with every type of tripped-out gurgle and curlicue: synth loops, Wurlitzers, trumpets, and melodramatic girl group backing vocals that can set your spine on end. Sveningsson's gentle burr of a singing voice is the ideal nucleus around which to build the music, sounding throughout the album as if it were perched prostrate on a cloud, whispering secrets down into your ear as you sleep. But I Sing Because of You is as successful as it is because it has extraordinary songs to spare. The album and Righteous Boy really do sing.

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