Saturday, October 18, 2008

it's nothing personal, it's national security by the social services

In Sweden, geek rock is hard to come by. This is, of course, a direct corollary to the fact that in Sweden, geeks are hard to come by --a major failing in a top shelf country that offers not only socialized health care, but an abundance of vegetarian menu options as well. So, any residual geekiness that The Social Services possess can probably be blamed by the fact that two-thirds of this band is not in fact Sweden-grown...they just call it home. Or maybe that's just the good ol' fashioned Glaswegian enthusiasm rearing its head when faced with Scandinavian "storage solutions" and the apathy of fellow public transport communters.

This outsider mentality peppers It's Nothing Personal, It's National Security (out now). A wistful homespun album, every track1 is laced with youthful energy and optimism, be it attempting to make new friends in your adopted homeland, listing the pros and cons of said homeland in somewhat rapid fire Swedish (which include, I think2, tributes to Pippi Longstocking and Igmar Bergman), or reminding the youth of today that, yeah, stuff tends to suck, but it will always get better. This frustration/hopefulness dichotomy perfectly informs the instrumentation--a straight forward, cleaned up twee-punk. We're young; eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die...or ya know, succumb to a rogue cholesterol attack. (Cholesterol? Please. Now that America has expanded to the Pacific Ocean our Manifest Destiny includes expanding waistlines.)

The meloncoholy though, is hard to sustain. Happiness, it appears, will always triumph. This is fun, cynicism-melting stuff, there's no way to get around it. The Social Services, armed with their singalong choruses, have taken up the mandate of fellow Scots Belle & Sebastian, Stewart Murdoch's playful condensation substituted for Emma Naismith and Lucy Cathert's infectious sing chant choruses.

Bottom line? It's a likable bunch making lovable music. I mean, how can you not love a band that enjoys a rousing game of "Touch the Swede"3?

Touch the Swede

1. Exception being the band's pretty/painful take on "You Are My Sunshine," which makes me feel the depression of a long Swedish winter in full force --despite the fact it's currently 80 outside and I've been whining about having to run my car's air conditioning.
2. It should be noted that my Swedish is limited to asking for a cookie, commenting on the value of local rock acts, and declaring that albino gorillas have stolen my computer.
3. Otherwise, the terrorists have won.

mp3: "Baltic Sea" by The Social Services
mp3: "Seven Dwarves" by The Social Services

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