Johan Hedberg

Paradiset

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As half of the adorable Swedish duo Suburban Kids with Biblical Names, Johan Hedberg helped create some really lovely indie pop during the 2000s. Often sounding like it was crafted in bedrooms late at night, their sound was rich and vibrant on a shoestring budget. On his first solo album, Paradiset, Hedberg takes a giant step out of the bedroom and into what sounds like a fairly posh studio. He spares no expense in making the kind of intricately arranged, larger-than-life album that could have been made in L.A. during the early '70s, some fancy island retreat in the '80s, or a tricked-out modern studio the size of a strip mall. Grand pianos, smooth saxes, scores of different guitars, vocals choirs, and all sorts of sound fill most of the available space behind Hedberg's catchy melodies and classic sophisticated pop songcraft structures, while leaving plenty of room for his unprepossessing vocals on top. Singing only in Swedish, Hedberg conveys plenty of heart and soul no matter what your native tongue may be, and it's easy to fall under his slickly crafted spell as the album plays out from one easy-to-swallow pop song to the next. His new music may lack the anything-goes excitement of Suburban Kids, but it has the same strong melodies and overall warmth firmly in place. Besides, any thrills that may have been lost are more than made up for by the album's graceful maturity that's just as important, and easy for fans to appreciate as they grow -- older, but not old -- along with Hedberg.

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