Second Comin'

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On their debut, An Album by Korallreven, Marcus Joons and Radio Dept.' s Daniel Tjäder created a warm, colorful dance pop experience that was as useful for drifting off into dreams as it was for bopping around a dancefloor. It was also quintessentially Swedish in the tradition of Tough Alliance and Air France. Their second record, 2014's Second Comin', took a while to appear and it was worth the wait. The duo don't change things up too much, but what they do tweak helps make the finished product a slight improvement over their first. The synths are a little bigger and more enveloping, the beats are a little tighter and less out of the box, and the songs are just a touch dreamier. The adjustments bring the band a little closer to the mainstream of synthy dance pop, but not in a bad way. Mostly they serve as an example of how to make music that's synth-based, extremely poppy, and not even a little cheesy. Lots of people could look to them for guidance. Want to sound epic and soul searching without going over the top? Check out "Threats." Want to get dancefloors moving as one without resorting to overdone dubstep drops or played-out synth builds? Try "The Highest State of Grace." Want to delve into some seriously melancholy synth pop without disappearing into a morose rabbit hole? Listen to either of the collaborations with I Break Horses' Maria Lindén ("Matras" and "Ki") and learn. Wondering how to collaborate in a meaningful way with an artist who has a very distinct sound without paving over what makes them (or you) unique? "Try Anything Once," their song with Cornelius, does a wonderful job of folding his layered, altered vocals into the bubbling warm grooves, and the effort makes it the record's standout track. Basically, Korallreven are dishing out textbook stuff here that will come in handy for anyone looking to make adventurous modern pop music that has brains and style and doesn't just chase the latest trends to diminishing results. Even if learning isn't an issue, and it probably isn't for most people, Second Comin' is the kind of album that's easy to love. Smooth and warm, fun and richly emotional, it's perfect late-night music. Or summer day music. Or winter warm-up music. Or whenever something modern, synthy, and Swedish is required.

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