mardi 24 mars 2009

Disco Defenders come from Sweden (again!)

Time to write more music reviews because there are LOADS of fresh pop albums that I cannot help but talk about...

First in line, the third studio album of swedish trio-then-quatuor-then-back-trio ALCAZAR. It is called Disco Defenders and has just been released as a double CD album including a 12 tracks new album (+1 remix) backed with a 13 best of compilation as a bonus.


It's ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC, Thank you !

After a third line-up change, Andreas & Tess are coming back with a new brunette Lina and they's musically back in form, as if they were never gone, thanks, for a great part, to super-producer Anders Hansson, who lately produced Agnes Carlsson's third album and pop masterpiece Dance Love Pop.

1. We Keep On Rockin' 9.5/10
CD One, called "Now", starts with the first single that was released last year to tease fans for their return. We keep on rockin' is a pure disco cheesy anthem that clicks on every right button to make us revival their best moments, claps, disco loops, rollovers, instant chorus and Alcazar brand-name dropping. There is no doubt Anders Hansson has produced the best item from the Alcazar factory's new collection here.
2. Burning 10/10
Next song (and single for sure) sees Alcazar go for a more electro-ized sound, still with disco roots though, and it fits them perfectly too. We're not far from something between swedish queens Velvet or September, but with male/female vocals. Vocally I miss Magnus though. The girls sound equally good when I think the quatuor version with Magnus & Andreas (who used to be lovers) voices mixed very well.
3. Stay The Night 10/10
Stay the night is Alcazar's third attempt at Melodifestivalen and current single and it completely ROCKS ! The music starts and you're totally taken, blown away by it. You can't do nothing but be lost in the catchy melody, memorable chorus, perfect vocals... It's a real shame they didn't won to go for Sweden at this year's Eurovision show. It was the best song of all. Stay the night, co-written by Anders Hansson with the band, has already becomed a favourite of mine along Someday, Ménage à trois or Crying at the discotheque.
4. From Brazil With Love 7.5/10
Co-written by Danny Saucedo, this new song is a festive brazilian inspired disco number that, on their Disco Defenders album, is like Kylie's Loveboat on her Light Years album : a Copacabana exotic musical fantasy lost in a disco-pop album. The strangest thing about it is not its inclusion here as it fits Alcazar well but who wrote it as it is far far away from what Danny usually is musically, either solo or in E.M.D.
5. Inhibitions 7/10
Another Anders Hansson song & production, but with full on phatt guitars still in for a disco inspired single. This one was digitally released after We keep on rockin' but didn't really clicked with their fanbase to launch the album. Truth is the song is little too repetitive in its melody/chorus lines and the more rocky sound doesn't fit them really. The song lacks their usual glamour & musical strass.
6. Harlem Nights 6.5/10
Anders Hansson is still on duty on the next track and we all go with some Cabaret inspiration with this very rythmic with fingers snapping song. Very old school approach with still a modern base : the song is strange but it may be a grower. It's not my cup of tea though. When it comes to a Broadway sound-a-like, I like it the way miss Kylie re-invents her Better the devil you know or I should be so lucky in concerts in stripped to the bone cooled down versions. Their Harlem Nights leave me a little cold...
7. Baby 10/10
Thankfully, next track is another disco-pop gem and once again, they've been given a song by english pop genius Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (aka the Pet Shop Boys) like Lovelife was. You call me baby goes the chorus and even if the song is lyrically a lot more simple than your usual psb song, it is a winner. I hope it becomes a further successful single for them with its moving melody and catchy chorus, surrounded by disco-dance arrangements. I am eager to hear (maybe one day) the original Pet Shop Boys produced & sung demo if it exists too...
8. Jump Straight Into The Fire 10/10
More disco rhythms with big bass, Jump straight into the fire starts like it is, another disco stomper and another Anders Hansson production. The song & chorus is catchy as hell and the lyrics are a little naughty, with the girls & boy being sexy. Single potential Alert !
9. My My Me And Mine 9/10
With still Anders Hansson on board, My my me and mine takes Alcazar back to their start musically to me. It wouldn't have sounded out of place on their debut but it isn't a let-down. I think it only expresses the continuity in their music goal : go round like a record on what they know how to do best : disco inspired dance-pop where all their influences melt together. Once again, all Alcazar's members co-write this one too.
10. Funkytown 8/10
As its title showed, next track is a cover of the disco anthem by Lipps Inc. The intro sounds like being speeded up but the rhythm goes down the right route very fast with their rendition being faithful as well as up-to-date, once again with Anders Hansson on production duties, amongst others. It is sometimes hard to convince when recording a new version of a song that is part of the collective musical history but I have to say they've succeed : their version is okay. I don't think I'll get away with it as a single release but as an album track, it is right.
11. Put The Top Down 7.5/10
The tempo sounds like it's being toned down a little with this close to the end more accoustic song. The melody is very light, catchy but although a good song, it doesn't sound like Alcazar to me. It is folk, not disco... It could have been recorded by Danny & friends on their E.M.D. album. Anders' voice dominates more than half the song but the girls take the lead on a breezy bridge before final choruses & fade. I think it is a very strange choice for inclusion on the album.
12. Thank You 10/10
A full on grand piano and vocal intro start the song very slowly, like some of Steps' song did when they were trying to re-catch ABBA's magic and it is just what Alcazar are doing here : when comes the chorus, the 70's are back there with campy & glamorous outfits like only Frida & Agnetha could wear back in the days. Musically and lyrically, Thank you is a tribute to ABBA, Alcazar's Thank you for the music or sort of. A little too old-fashioned maybe for a single release for masses but definitely one of the greatest moments Alcazar have ever recorded !
13. Stay The Night (Club Mix)
The album's conclusion is a more clubby remix of Stay the night that erases a little the disco sounds for a more contemporary dance sound a la

Second CD, called Then, puts all their previous hits together, like they already were on their previous release Alcazar Deluxe, except for Here I am which is not included here and Don't you want me is not the Almighty remix like it was on previous Best Of :
1. This Is The World We Live In
2. Crying At The Discoteque
3. Ménage À Trois
4. Sexual Guarantee
5. Don't You Want Me
6. Start The Fire
7. Shine On
8. Not A Sinner Nor A Saint
9. Physical
10. Ritmo Del Amor
11. Alcastar
12. Love Life
13. Someday

In conclusion, Disco Defenders assumes its title for Alcazar are making every disco style theirs here all with pop brilliance and you cannot do without it in your discography for sure. The Then CD makes all the more this new album a must-have for every Alcazar old like new fan and even more when Alcazar Deluxe wasn't one of the albums you had bought (like for me).
So you can bet I used my once again... So should you !