Cloetta Paris is easy enough to lump in with the Italo-disco revival of the mid- to late 2000s, and she certainly shares many of the relevant '80s dance reference points, but her sweet, lovingly crafted ten-song debut also functions as a reminder that -- hipster-historical trendspotting notwithstanding -- sentimental synthesizer pop hasn't exactly gone anywhere in the last 25 years. From always reliable originators the Pet Shop Boys -- still going strong -- to indie pop pioneers Saint Etienne, Momus, and Stephin Merrit (in his various guises), underground torchbearers like I Am the World Trade Center, Baxendale, and Soviet, and high-profile resurgents like the Postal Service and Ladytron, people never really stopped making music that sounds like this, especially in Scandinavia (the home of Europop from ABBA to Ace of Base to Annie.) Secret Eyes fits right in with both the overtly dancey and the more song-oriented strains of this tradition, boasting prominent beats and synth hooks as well as a readily evident, quintessentially twee pop heart -- no surprise considering that Roger Gunnarsson, who wrote and produced the album under the pseudonym Clive Reynolds, has long been an active figure on Sweden's indie pop scene, but also due in equal measure to Cloetta's fragile, winsome vocals, delivered with just a dash of classically indie detachment. All that said, there's no point pretending that Cloetta Paris is doing anything breathtakingly original here -- still, this kind of music always has a certain freshness when it's done really well, and Secret Eyes has enough creativity, charm, and good old-fashioned catchiness to capture that spirit common to all the best synth pop, regardless of era. Nearly every track is worth recommending, but three to watch out for are the sweeping title cut, the giddy ELO cover "So Serious," and especially the indelibly hooky "Broken Heart Tango," whose chorus overlays a start-stop tango rhythm atop its disco-house groove to excellent effect. Manna for mixtapes and dancefloors alike.
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AllMusic Review by K. Ross Hoffman