THE EXPLODING BOY
Although sounding fully current, the new album by Stockholm-based outfit The Exploding Boy, has a great deal of alternative soundtrack for the life of those who involved in dark music decades ago. If being one of them you mantain the opposite, you're probably deceiving yourself. In fact "Four" treasures not only touchstones of Goth Rock, New Wave and Post-Punk, but also these are cleverly merged with elements drawn from more accesible styles that have been interacted with them over the years and continue to do so. It is therefore no surprising that resonant names so different from one another as The Sisters of Mercy, Gary Numan, The Cure, Editors or Tiamat spring to mind while listening - those are the spirits that have stalked me but your own ones are lying in ambush waiting in the repertoire for sure. Maybe you have read a similar description of sound lately, but the difference here is that the Swedish succeed where others fail: authenticity and fervor. Johan Sjöblom (vocals, acoustic guitar), Lars 'Les' Andersson (lead guitar), Stefan Axell (vocals, electric guitar) and Nick Isgren (keyboards) move with ease within the bounds of mainstream and go no further than their independance will allow. "Four" offers us varied, dark-tinged and infectious music, featuring well-managed tempo changes and an exciting contrast between melodic hooks and intense dynamics. Thus, you can take an adrenaline-pumping ride on the motorized opener "Cracked/Reasons" or be carried away by the iridiscent atmosphere that "Runaways" provides. Hard-edged guitars and moody bass take the pulse on "Shadows". It shows off ardient and raw, leaving a heady garage smell in its wake. Only piano and vocals coloured the dominant grey partially. Emanating the resiny fragance reminiscent of the 80s, "Always" runs jolly and upbeat, propelled by pulsating Post-Punk bass lines and meandering riffs. Mercury drops when synths introduce "Street Cliché", but seconds after a rock guitar blare resets temperature to its factory calibration. From then on, the song turns into an emotional rollercoster, alternating typically Cold Wave string passages with catchy vocals and fiery chords. The advanced single and video track "Dark City (Part II)" - produced by Tiamat's mastermind Johan Edlund - bursts restless in rhythm, with groovy bass throbs and hypnotic drum beats - it's inevitably to think of Sisters' classic "Lucretia" here. Signature choruses, jangly guitars and cunning arrangements leave a high-gloss shimmer to the track's finish. The trip comes to an end with the midtempo "Scared to Death". It starts gliding on softly through trance-inducing cadences and acoustic figures but then expands into an epic terrain, thrown by windswept melodies and synths. It reminds me a lot of Midnight Oil's highlighted moments, specially through the singing. Overall "Four" evidences The Exploding Boy's talent to absorb the luscious substance of dark - and far beyond - music to create the edgy and, in many ways illusory, kind of Pop Rock that a midnight gambler will fight to be hang to.
Review by Billyphobia