Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

The Sweptaways and Jens Lekman – Happiness Will Be My Revenge

Their cover of “They Don’t Know” is quite good, though (better than Tara Jane O’Neil’s, in any case), and eminently Youtubable…


Martin Skidmore: Disappointingly not the former Arsenal goalkeeper – perhaps he could sing properly. Instead it’s some flat-voiced singer-songwriter joining a Swedish choir. This is not my idea of a promising combination, though I suppose it does at least provide some tunefulness, although the choir are kind of irritating too. There’s a half-decent and quite sweet song here, but the gimmickry is annoying.

Chuck Eddy: EZ-Listening madrigal choir into clunky kitsch parody of a girl group into some precious Magnetic Fields-style priss blankly crooning cabaret crap about deathbed regrets and Texas snowflakes and, uh, “galaxies of feeling” over a keyboard tuned in to the “college ska” setting, then back and forth, then forth and back. I guess it’s supposed to be touching. For some people, I don’t doubt that it is. Some might even detect a high-minded moral lesson about how it’s better to have loved and lost your life than never to have loved at all. But here’s the real moral: Indie rock still sucks.

Andrew Unterberger: Every time I’m prepared to give Jens Lekman the benefit of the doubt, I hear a song like this that tips the sweet/precious scales squarely back into Fuck Jens Lekman territory. I doubt he sheds many tears for the loss of my support, however, as he makes his 17th tour of the year through the Northeast Liberal Arts circuit and half-heartedly fights his way through the adoring masses.

Alex Macpherson: Everything reprehensible about twee in one punchable package. Why do people think acting like this is acceptable? It’s such a cowardly, passive-aggressive pose, all that ineffectual feyness and faux shyness; when Lekman sings “I’m not going to cry no tears,” you feel that he’s the kind of boy for whom not weeping actually does take a supreme amount of willpower. Pathetic and contemptible.

Michaelangelo Matos: I understand if Jens was already a little too freakin’ glee-club for you even before collaborating with one, honest. But the guy really does have a hell of an ear — the last album is one of the most sumptuously arranged of the decade, and I say this as someone who despised it the first time I put it on. And this comes pretty close; actually, the cut-and-pasted arrangement is probably closer to Odelay, a strong album I’ve never felt especially close to. But the choir really does get in the way of this for me.

Dave Moore: So are the Sweptaways an undergraduate a cappella group who caught a break or something? Their gratuitous choral coverage of a decent indie bossa nova helmed by Jens Lekman detracts from the song’s simplicity, and like the Polyphonic Spree I’m mostly just left wondering how the hell so many people could comfortably split the hundred bucks they might make on a gig.

Hillary Brown: It’s a little faint, but it’s still almost textbook Lekman in its commitment to the pretty.

Tom Ewing: Jens Lekman’s talents as a songwriter and lyricist may or may not be awesome: I absolutely cannot get past his grey shrug of a voice, which makes this record feel like being jabbed listlessly in the buttock by a blunt pencil. The rest of the track is a woeful mess, a band going shopping for “things that make a song good” in that ticky-box Scandinavian way, and then just not bothering to do anything with their swag.

David Raposa: Too much twee for me. I’m able to deal with Lekman’s eneverating politeness on his solo joints, and The Sweptaways’ glee club shenanigans might be easier to handle when they go their own way — hell, the intro to this song’s almost enjoyable! But when the former’s toothpaste makes contact with the latter’s orange juice in front of some chintzy cruise-line tropical-island “beat,” (with The Sweptaways name-checking themselves over & over again to boot), it makes me long for monsoons and hurricane season.

5 Responses to “The Sweptaways and Jens Lekman – Happiness Will Be My Revenge”

  1. I like (sometimes love) Lekman, but this is fucking dire. [3] at most.

  2. The Sweptaways deal is that they are like Jemaine’s Choir Of Ex Girlfriends from Flight Of The Conchords, right?

  3. I was regretting that I couldn’t get my hatred pulled together in time for a review of this, but you lot did well without me. “The former’s toothpaste makes contact with the latter’s orange juice” about expresses my feelings. I think the opening madrigal part could work well as the ghastly “happy” start of a horror film; the girl-group riffs the glee club then commences would make this bearable if Lekman weren’t so fingernails-on-the-board passive. 2. (I don’t mean to imply that I think they’re bad people, though. Who are they really hurting?) (I’ve never given lower than a 3 here; that’s because I didn’t get copy in for Herman Dune or that Comic Relief single, either.)

  4. I’ve been listening to so much Ciara recently that when I initially read Tom’s blurb I read it as “swag” meaning swagger, and was all like HEIN? These losers couldn’t swagger if their lives depended on it. Then I remembered there was another meaning!

    I’m v proud of you all for the hate here.

  5. Y’know I didn’t even make the connection to the Wertmuller film until just now, which would have probably cost them a point if I’d caught it in time for having the audacity to align themselves with that kinda passion (though I’d never go lower than that, it’s too forgettable). I was thinking “swept away” more like “cast aside” (“I swept away the lima beans”) which though oddly self-deprecating is an appropriate name.