Mando Diao

Hurricane Bar

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Bring 'Em In, Mando Diao's 2003 debut, cut the hard swing of 1960s British R&B with a raw edge comparable to the Strokes or Hives. It had the best influences from the past and all the zing of 21st century rock & roll; it was fun, but that was about it. Released in 2005, Hurricane Bar lands in a similar place. The voices of co-frontmen Björn Dixgård and Gustaf Norén are still a force -- Dixgård's throaty and clear, Norén's a beery yell -- and there's an eagerness in the band's playing that keeps Mando Diao's tunes bright and foot-tappable. "God Knows" is a great example with its organ runs, punchy rhythm, and Noel/Liam-like vocal interplay. But that same knack for re-creating the already re-created sounds of their peers keeps rearing up on Hurricane Bar, and it docks the album points in the genuineness department. The Libertines' cocksure hyperactivity is the primary source for songs like "Clean Town" and "Annie's Angle"; "Cut the Rope" follows the Libertine lead in essaying the Clash. These tracks are well done. They'll sound great railing through rock club sound systems from Manchester to New York City, not to mention in Mando Diao's hometown of Borlänge, Sweden. But they're all swagger and no soul. Fortunately, Hurricane Bar's second half takes some promising turns. "Dream Is Over" has chirping guitar leads and a classic Britpop chorus, and Dixgård's "Ringing Bells" is strikingly gentle. "Ringing bells in Saxton and Oakland bringing you home..." goes the final lyric, and it's a comforting mantra anywhere in the world. "All My Senses" is also strong -- like "Dream," it crosses scraggly guitars with the softer elements Mando Diao might think about using more often. And there's a great organ solo, too. [Initial pressings of Hurricane Bar's domestic version included videos for "Clean Town," "God Knows," and "Down in the Past."]

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