Moon Safari - 'Himlabacken Vol. 1' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 16, 2013    
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Absolutely spectacular.

This year I thought my decision on which release would top my poll for best album was settled within the first couple of months as I couldn't see anything surpassing a certain release (I leave you to work out which that is) but now I have a choice to make as 'Himlabacken Vol. 1' is absolutely spectacular.

Their mellow take on the Prog genre may not be to everyone's taste but if you have a liking for amazing melodies and harmony vocals then this an album you will want to own. I detect a less melancholy feel compared to their earlier albums; probably because the subject matter is not about love lost but actually a celebration of their youth. Apparently Himlabacken is a hill that was important in the area where the majority of the band grew up in Sweden.

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'Kids' is a short but very sweet opening to the album with the band's five part harmonies given free rein and in all their glory. The refrain to 'Too Young to Say Goodbye' is delicious and feels immediately familiar. I fell in love with this song on first hearing and many plays later I still feel the same way. Once again the melody is infectious, the harmonies fabulous and the chorus hooks you in and won't let go. 'Mega Moon' mixes The Flower Kings (TFK) with the quirkiness of A.C.T. and a touch of Queen, an alluring combination to be sure. The syncopated instrumental section is a delight and just shows they aren't purely a fluffy band and that they can inject some heaviness. The track builds in terrific fashion and once again the chorus hits the spot. 'Barfly' features a heavy riff but the chorus adopts a gentler approach and again I'm reminded of TFK albeit with hint of 10CC in the mix. 'Red White Blues' is a beautiful laid back number that is initially acoustically driven but as instruments are added it builds in power. Once again the refrains and melodies are exquisite.

'My Little Man' could have been rather twee, given the subject matter, but it is actually a delight. Simple acoustic guitar, voice and shaker lend a sparse but effective feel. 'Diamonds' opens with a Billy Joel-esque piano before developing into another infectious melody. To demonstrate that these guys have a sense of humour they take the rise out of themselves on the lengthy album closer 'Sugar Band'. In some quarters they have been criticised as being too polite and sweet in their approach but I prefer to think of their music as joyous and an affirmation of melody. This track regurgitates all those criticisms and makes them into a beautiful song; the heavier chorus and instrumental sections juxtaposes the deliberately saccharine parts superbly.

Me, I can't wait for volume two.

Gary Marshall

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