The trio of Chris Karlsson, Pontus Winnberg, and Andrew Wyatt return with their sophomore follow-up to their self-titled 2009 release and do their very best to carry the tempo in their all important second album. The album starts treading new water from the very first track “Enter the Joker’s Lair,” which sounds equal parts MGMT and Yeasayer – but hones and edits the track in a way that doesn’t let it spin out of control and into artistic overindulgence.
The great thing about this act is that they truly subscribe to the “go big or go home” philosophy – in the genre of electropop this is an exciting prospect. “The Waves” finds familiar territory and would not have been out of place on the band’s debut album; “Devil’s Work” is an epic track wound tight in an under four-minute package.
Now this is where the tempo falters a bit – “Vase” and “God Help This Divorce”‘ are both foreign-sounding in comparison to the band’s general body of work. They aren’t terrible tracks and one can see where the collaborative approach of this record is lending itself to a newfound creativity and brotherhood, but they definitely alter the tempo of the album.
Fortunately “Bavarian #1 (Say You Will)”, the album’s highlight with military-style drums, ethereal keys and a Popblerd-licious (TM) chorus (replete with whistles) arrives smack dab in the middle of the tracklisting to give fans and newcomers alike something to hum along to. “The Pretender” with its driving sense of urgency keeps the head boppin’ and the toes tappin’. The horn section in the middle of the track adds a level of instrumentation that pushes the song over the top.
Then the tempo takes a dip again. “Archipelego” sounds like a Swedish electropop band taking a stab at British rock. Sometimes it’s better to stay within genre. “Black Tin Box” is the male version of a weirded out track (lacking the aforementioned editing for artistic indulgence) that would serve better as a b-side in the discography of either Lykke Li (who guests on the track already) or The Knife.
The album closes out with the up-tempo, Fatboy Slim-inspired “Paddling Out”. The bottom line is that when these guys are on, there’s no stopping them. When they’re off, well, it’s kind of like standing around at the rock concert: your beer is empty, you’ve got your hands in your pockets, you’re tired from a long day of work, shaking off sleep, and waiting for the tempo to pick up again. On that basis Snow’s second album gets… drumroll…
Grade: B –
Check out their really F’d up video for “Paddling Out” below.