Soft Machine

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Though the members of the Teddybears used to be in a Swedish grindcore band together back in the '90s, you would be hard-pressed to hear those harder, noisier influences in Soft Machine, their first U.S. release. Instead, brothers Jaokim and Klas Ahlund and Patrick Arve use drum machines, methodically layered electric guitars, keyboards, and a whole lot of bass to propel their alternative dance-fueled music forward. The album is a high-energy, rhythm-driven affair, with synthy basslines and rock-solid beats holding down the tracks while sloshing guitars lay out circular, effects-laden riffs. Many will probably be familiar with the Teddybears' sound thanks to the appearance of their song, the Fatboy Slim-esque "Cobrastyle" in a 2006 Heineken commercial, which combines guest vocalist Mad Cobra's simple, catchy lyrics with handclaps and head-nodding made-for-road-trips chord breaks, and the rest of the record pretty much follows suit, which is both a good and a bad thing. Good because the band has hit upon an effective kind of brightly nocturnal dance-rock that plays nicely, but bad because as Soft Machine progresses, the formula they use becomes more and more apparent, and just a little less fun every time; by the time "Little Stereo" comes around, the poppy reggae melodies and straightforward drums are a bit tiresome in their predictability. This isn't to say that the album's without its strengths -- Iggy Pop helps to give a convincing Killers treatment to "Punkrocker," and though he sounds a bit stilted at times, Osterberg's voice is as strong as it's been in a long time, while "Automatic Lover" features a great plodding vocoder and plenty of cascading electronic bleeps, and everything moves along well. No, Soft Machine isn't any more groundbreaking than any of the other 21st century alternative dance albums out there, but it covers the basics -- beat and melody -- well enough to make it enjoyable nonetheless.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 00:24 SpotifyAmazon
feat: Malte
feat: Mad Cobra
feat: Neneh Cherry
feat: Elephant Man
6 03:47 SpotifyAmazon
feat: Iggy Pop
8 04:10
9 03:19 SpotifyAmazon
10 03:43 SpotifyAmazon
11 03:04
12 04:18
13 04:55 SpotifyAmazon
blue highlight denotes track pick