Embellish

Wake Me Up!

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    6
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AllMusic Review by

No new ground broken, no left-field surprises, nothing that would shock anyone who loves their Smiths or Field Mice or early Cardigans or anything that could be called indie pop -- Embellish isn't out to uproot expectations and take over the world. Embellish is just happy finding its own way through that uniquely Scandinavian approach to sunny-sounding jangle, and on Wake Me Up! the sextet succeeds in spades on that level. The most adventurous touch is that two members, Tora Thisen and Julie Wellejus, contribute backing vocals and nothing else; if the sexual politics and approach aren't, say, the pop-era Human League, it's still a good way to add some gentle sonic contrast for lead singer/guitarist Claus Hansen. His singing is so purely of its place and location that there has to be something in the Baltic or North Sea that makes folks like him sing in such a sweet and often soaring way, as the members of, say, a-ha or Eggstone could testify to. The other bandmembers play their parts with the right aplomb (whoever is pulling off the semi-metal solos, Hansen or Jens Pape, deserves credit for the way that spikes up the arrangements just enough), and the result is a perfectly pleasant listen. To its credit, Wake Me Up! holds up beyond first exposure -- there's enough in the swooning singing and brisk punch of "You" and chugging stop-start chop of "I Don't Know" to give them, among others, plenty of listens. Even seemingly glum songs like "Drug Dealer" are anything but -- the chorus is one of the album's most winning moments, all three singers joining in to talk about how "she doesn't care who you are," even if one has the titular job for a living.

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