Acid House Kings: Music Sounds Better With You

Band: Acid House Kings
Album: Music Sounds Better With You
Release Date: March 2011
Label: Labrador
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

If you’re anything like me, you’ve already started on making long lists of all the fun summer stuff you want to do: picnics, roofdeck parties, bike rides, photo hikes, outdoor movies, day-trips, even just reading and napping in the park. What better time, then, to start getting your perfect summer soundtrack in order?

You’ll find no finer place to start this year than Acid House Kings’ “Music Sounds Better With You” (Labrador) – that is, if your summers, like mine, are more about chill get-togethers with a couple friends than getting crazy blackout drunk at arena shows or all-night fistfights in the Meatpacking.

While the sweet, twee pop of “Music” is no signficant departure from the Swedish trio’s previous releases, it’s still a gorgeous listen. Niklas Angergård and Julia Lannerheim’s dueling vocals and requisite boy/girl harmonies provide much of the cute, poppy fun of Acid House Kings, though on closer listen, the listener finds this cuteness both underscored and undercut by Angergård’s (who shares songwriting credit with his brother Jonas, the third official member of the trio) poignant lyrics and Lannerheim’s surprisingly rich, honeyed, bittersweet, 60s-retro-kitten voice.

Acid House Kings have always reveled in their very “Swedishness” – their sound, their image, their very existence always seems so pleasantly, refreshingly “other” (there’s even a song here called “I Just Called to Say Jag Älskar Dig”). This “otherness”, together with some clever harmonies, arrangements (punctuated with such touches as horns, woodwinds, xylophones, handclaps and castanets in addition to the noodling keyboards and electric guitars), and turns of phrase can elevate such familiar, even cliché pop music sentiments as “Are We Lovers or Are We Friends?”, for example, into something wholly transcendant.

But then, Acid House Kings have always struck me as more about the comedown, more about facing the fact that the highs never last than about the highs themselves. Like waking up on the beach at dawn, in the fog and alone, the night after the big bonfire party. Still happy, yes…but other things, too.

Acid House Kings have been known to take up to five years between albums – they all have other careers and freely admit that the band is just a bit of fun. So while each new release feels like an event, the music itself feels so intimate, even offhand, that it seems like one of those personal, “secret” events, like watching that single droplet of rain on the windshield, waiting for it to run down out of sight.

Bring this out at your next platter party, and you are virtually guaranteed at least one solid “What the hell is this??” The good kind. The excited kind.

Favorite tracks: Would You Say Stop?; There is Something Beautiful; Heaven Knows I Miss Him Now

Recommended if you like: sunshine; candy; holding hands

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