El Perro del Mar + Lykke Li + Anna Ternheim
Wed Apr 30 2008
Photograph: Jonas Linell/Www.B-Martin.Se
Joe’s Pub; May 7, 2008
Bowery Ballroom; May 8, 2008
There are two approaches to crafting a good bill: Juxtapose disparate performers and hope the friction creates sparks, or match artists who mine similar veins so that minor stylistic differences suddenly become excitingly magnified. This all-Swedish bill falls squarely in the latter camp.
El Perro del Mar’s Sarah Assbring carves a pared-down take on the 1960s girl-group sound—just imagine the Shirelles at half speed and in gray tones. On the new From the Valley to the Stars, Assbring further refines her aesthetic, building each song on the repetition of a brief sentence or two. What at first sounds frustratingly austere quickly becomes addictive, as those phrases burn themselves in your brain.
Lykke Li is more feisty—or rather, Feist-y. Coproduced by Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John, the upcoming Youth Novels album is typical of the new international-indie mold: Both rinky-dink and shrewdly self-aware, it swings wildly between annoyingly quirky and excitingly quirky, often in a single song.
Lke her tourmates, opener Anna Ternheim—whose U.S. debut, Halfway to Fivepoints, compiles material from two Swedish albums—is young, but she displays the kind of expansive thoughtfulness one usually associates with the decanting passage of years. She has a penchant for majestic orchestrations and soaring melodies; it’s a testament to her songwriting skills that she (1) doesn’t get completely overwhelmed by the arrangements and (2) doesn’t sound like Coldplay. How good is she? The cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies” isn’t even the disc’s best track.