Laurel Music

This Night and the Next

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Malin Dahlberg's striking singing voice -- clear and sweet, with a curiously accented blend of polish and twang -- worked wonderfully with the hazy dream pop sound of Douglas Heart, but it's an even more satisfying fit for Tobias Isaksson's rootsy, sentimental songwriting. That exquisite combination, realized thanks to the pop music wizards over at Labrador Records, is the underlying source of Laurel Music's considerable charm, as manifested on the delicate, understated, and all-too-brief This Night and the Next. Split roughly evenly between sparse, tender ballads and more upbeat, shuffling country-pop numbers ("No One Wants Forever" appears once in each style), the whole album radiates warmth and light-hearted intimacy. The band's cited influences skew towards folk and indie pop -- the gentle New York outfit Ida is perhaps the most resonant point of reference -- but there's an obvious country presence here as well, overt but not overstated, what with the Isaksson's rhythmic fingerpicking, judicious use of harmonica and pedal steel, and that elusive twinge in Dahlberg's voice. It's an appealing, instantly familiar sound that has as much to do with 1960s Bakersfield as it does with 2000s Gothenburg, and in Laurel Music's hands it feels quietly, effortlessly timeless.

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