The Legends

Up Against the Legends

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The Legends are fronted by Acid House Kings/Club 8 main man Johan Angergard and their sound has a clear forerunner in the Club 8 track "Saturday Night Engine," a storming (very) Northern soul-inspired track bursting with an excitement that sounded quite out of place in that quiet group's discography. Johan must have realized this somewhere along the line, so he put together a new group as an outlet for his new songs. Drawing inspiration from some of the highlights of pop music through the ages (the pounding dancefloor beats of Motown, the thundering Spector Wall of Sound, the sweet harmonies of the girl group sound, the wire-sharp melodies of C-86 bands, the churning guitars of indie rock), the Legends sprinkle the record with tambourines, handclaps, and guitar fuzz and end up sounding like the best '80s noise pop band you never heard. In fact if you threw Up Against the Legends on in between an early Primitives or Jesus and Mary Chain record, you'd be hard-pressed to guess that it was released nearly 20 years later than the others. Not only does the record have an exciting sound, but the songs are strong too, full of hooky melodies, catchy choruses, and memorable phrases. At least half the record will be stuck in your head for days, and the rest sounds like the kind of timeless melodies that feel like you heard them somewhere before but can't quite place. "There and Back Again," "The Kids Just Wanna Have Fun," "Call It Ours," "Right On," and "Nothing to Be Done" are instant classic pop songs driven by Angergard's overloaded vocals and the group's enthusiasm. If you are looking for a band to file next to Comet Gain or the Vaselines in your collection or to slot next to Saturday Looks Good to Me on your next mixtape or to fill the void in your noise pop soul since the collapse of the JAMC all those years ago, the Legends have you covered. Up Against the Legends is the kind of stunning debut that makes you excited about the possibilities of pop music. So many bands have taken up the noise pop mantle in the early 2000s and failed to deliver, yet the Legends deliver and, as daring as it may be to say, improve upon the work of their forbears. Indie pop in 2004 doesn't get any better than this.

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