A Stockholm band formed in late 2003, South Ambulance combine the best of Swedish pop to brilliant effect. They take the woozy guitar overload of, say, The Radio Dept and mix it the happy C86-inspired pop of so many Swedish bands, making this debut a must-hear.
One aspect is the Ride/ My Bloody Valentine dense guitar sound, as on the feedbacking sonic sculptures of ‘Take Them Out’ and the extravagant rhythms of ‘Done Undone’. The other feature is their pop sensibility: ‘Worry Satellite’ is Beatles-y pop with great sha-la-la harmonies while ‘Die 5Times Times5’ surfs in on a wave of sugar, all pristine pa-pa-pa harmonies, trumpets and handclaps before impaling you on the bitter lyrics: “your girlfriend looks like shit and I know you’re aware of it”. It’s the best track on the album, as gloriously rousing as the lyrics are slashed-wrist desperate, and all the more brilliant for being the first song they ever recorded. They’re not scared of that bitter edge; the impressive ‘The Ballad of Duncan Boyle’ is a confession to a Columbine-type school revenge killing with cold lyrics: “I saw her and it was the last time/ she would ever turn away”. Again, the song exploits contrasts, moving from dark and sombre synths to a very pretty ending with jangly guitars.
A sense of (black) humour, a brilliant sense of melody and an ability to take their guitars to the max – these Swedes have it all.