tremble clef

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ronderlin, "Reflected" (2003)/"Wake Up" (2007)

History: I first heard Ronderlin when I picked up Parasol's Sweet Sixteen Vol 6. This was the summer of 2003, I was back in Boston to visit, and one of my old haunts had the sampler for a buck or so. At my friend's house that evening, I listened on my CD player (this was before iPods) and immediately took to two acts: the French band Orwell, and Ronderlin. So the next day I traipsed to yet another favorite used record store, and, with my sense of recklessness and urgency exacerbated by being on vacation, found and bought both band's full lengths (this was before dowloading).

Hailing from Sweden, Ronderlin made sweet jangly guitar-pop that made them good fits for the Labrador/Hidden Agenda record labels. Their contribution to the sampler is also the highlight of their first album, Wave Another Day Goodbye (although the title track, "You Made Someone Want You," and "Summer Likes The Wind" are also worth seeking out, music fans).

"Reflected" is a shimmering piece of absolute pop goodness. I adore the plucked guitar chords that kick off the song, and the way its story sort of begins in media res ("We are all the same she said/But some die young and some get old"). Although there is an identifiable chorus ("Love is more than a word/Love is really beyond words"), the three parts of the song are equally dextrous and given similar weight, so that the whole composition sounds very organic and naturally flowing. The way the lyric mostly doesn't bother to rhyme its line endings only adds to this feeling. The track makes me giddily happy, even though it's a very realistic kind of love song: although our singer is in love, he (and his lover) both know that "there'll be days when we've grown old/And when our love is no longer for the two of us to hold." And indeed, by the end of the song, "death is here you know and soon it will be time," but its very arrival also attests to how their love has "last[ed] more than a day." Until then, "when days are bright and songs are is more than a word."

Four years on, the band has resurfaced with a new album, The Great Investigation, which I've been really enjoying. They seem to have lost a bassist -- they are now a quintet -- but gained a more electronic sound, a move that other Swedish bands have made (The Legends, for instance). This has led their press releases to claim, as the band's influences, New Order and Pet Shop Boys; I'm not entirely sure I hear the latter, but the opening synth notes of "Aside" (and thus the opening notes of the whole album) are very Other Two's "Tasty Fish," and the rest of the track's interplay between strummy guitars and new wavy synths does sound very Republic.

My favorite track from this second album is "Wake Up." I love the unmuscular, "empty" drum sound, and the grinding urk-eeek-urk synth sound, followed by a squealing guitar chord, is really hooky. Speaking of "Hooky," the strummed guitars that enter during the second verse, at the 1:27 mark, is a nice touch, and a middle eight freakout -- preceded by a quiet moment when the song is is simply sung with an organ backing -- likewise keeps things interesting. And there are even handclaps! Aceness, good sirs.


Post a Comment

<< Home