Click. Buzz. Whirr. When 'Blue Monday' hit clubs in 1983, New Order unknowingly began a wave of electronic pop music that crashed through the next two decades. Bands such as Depeche Mode have built careers upon merging synths and Stratocasters, creating music for dance floors and indie clubs the world over. Nowhere is this influence more telling than the Scandinavian music scene, where long winters lead to a marriage of glacial electronics and frozen vocals. One can imagine bands such as Tribeca passing the long winter nights listening to 'Technique', drinking schnapps, and debating as to whether 'Music For the Masses' was better than 'Black Celebration' (the latter, of course).
'Dragon Down' is Tribeca's second UK release, and shows the Swedish duo of* Lasse Lindh* and Claes Björklund have a canny knack for melancholic electro-pop. You can tell that these boys have had their hearts broken on more than one occasion, with Lindh's aching vocals befitting of a man who's had his fair share of 'Dear John' letters. Sample lyrics range from 'minor fractures in the soul' to '_I need these arms of yours to rebuild my heart_'. Hmmm, better buy Lasse a double. Behind him, Bjorkland creates an arctic land of stuttering beats and blips, and getting through the twelve tracks on offer may prove difficult to those who prefer warmer climes.
The problem with 'Dragon Down' is that the emotional content mixed with colder sonics weighs the album down too often. Lindh's vocals are often hidden behind an electronic sheen, removing much of the human element that his lyrics convey. There's enough emotion here to fill a Bergman retrospective, but it's a real struggle to get to the album's heart. The odd sunnier tune wouldn't go astray either. For an album that was made in late summer, it certainly feels more of a midwinter memoir.
Occasionally though, rays of light eventually break through. Opener '_La La La etc_'. is a sweet simple pop song reminiscent of fellow countrymen Melody Club (without the over-the-top Suede stylings). Album highlight 'Solitude' comes complete with a Manics influenced drum machine (in the vain of 'You Stole The Sun from My Heart'), sweeping keyboard washes, and of course, a 'Blue Monday' drum beat, before a dying battery brings it to a complete stop. A few more tracks such as this, and perhaps the odd trip to New York's clubs, could push Tribeca on to greater things. Twenty two years on, it might be time for Arthur Baker to work his magic wand again.
6Euan McLean's Score