Club 8 has been quietly prolific for 13 years, releasing six albums, touring the world and furthering the mission of Sweden’s Labrador Records, the best indie-pop outfit on the planet. In addition, multi-instrumentalist Johan Angergard splits his time with the brilliant Acid House Kings, a band you should Google now if their name is foreign to you. Therefore, after six albums, the duo (including singer Karolina Komstedt) should be a well-oiled machine, capable of crafting whimsical pop ditties with ease, given their experience and resume. Yet, The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming is not a perfect pop record filled with luscious melodies. It is pretty, unabashedly joyous and non-threatening, yes, but of little substance. The songs come and go, weaving through melodies from one to another, but nothing demands attention, not even the pseudo religious opener ‘Jesus Walk With Me’ or the concluding title track, one that surpasses the rest in its melodic structure, but again, is rather boring to listen to.
This is not bad at all, but not worthwhile either. All in all, there is not a genuinely disjointed sound on the record, as the songs create a mood, establish a theme and follow it to a tee. That theme, mastered by other artists on Labrador, is saccharine, dreamy and soft-spoken. Yet, within all this fairy-tale imagery, substance develops, usually reliant on quirky instrumentation and brooding harmonies. Both are non-existent here. Not as if they do not try though. A cello and a bubbling brook adorn ‘Where Birds Don’t Fly’, but the song is stationary, never reacting to the nuances inserted to inspire Komstedt to raise her tone. She doesn’t though, keeping things to bland to be enjoyable, however twee it is. A driving drumbeat and acoustic strum bellows through ‘Football Kids’, a song that could be brilliant, but again, nope. Komstedt adds some caustic wit into the brew, claiming that football kids prefer to get on the dole than get a job (true on you Karolina), but the terse tone clashes with the flowery melody, leaving the song a confusing mess, rather than a socially conscious pop gem. ‘Everything Goes’ is the same. The lyrics are interesting enough, commenting on drug use and addiction, but the song is simply a bore. This crafts a set that all is said and done, spun from end to end, no residue remains. I really do not want to press play again. Once is enough. These songs just come and go. That’s about it.
Still, The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming is no lost cause. For Labrador standards it is in need of improvement, but aside from that elements exist to take make it worth a listen. The production is beautiful, Komstedt's voice is as soothing as cashmere and for a pop record, it maintains strong pop sensibilities. Unfortunately, pop sensibilities aside, it is bland and unassuming. That does not add up to a record worth buying.
4Shain Shapiro's Score