Free and legal MP3: the Sweet Serenades (happy/sad indie pop from Sweden)

“Die Young” – the Sweet Serenades

Despite the bright guitar line, winsome beat, perky synthesizer, and, even, bongos(!), this melodic toe-tapper is poignant through and through. (Sad lyrics to happy music is a perpetually satisfying pop music trick.) The band’s Martin Nordvall here trades vocals with guest Karolina Komstedt from Club 8, and the story is a wistful, disconnected one: smitten, he sings how he loves to linger in the morning and watch her breathe; she, forty seconds later, “not looking for love,” sings, “In the morning/You stay a little too long.” Ouch.

One of my favorite moments happens early, as the song is still setting itself up: when Nordvall sings “I haven’t been myself lately” (0:35), the words “been myself” form a sort of triplet, the second two syllables each coming ahead of the beat while—this is the cool thing—underneath, one of the guitars slashes three evocative chords precisely in rhythm with all three parts of the syncopated phrase. Okay, subtle, but it’s the kind of thing that to me signals a song of merit and purpose. I like too how one of Komstedt’s two heavy introductory sighs—before you actually hear her begin singing—come right ahead of that lyrical line.

Based in Stockholm, the Sweet Serenades are Nordvall and lead guitarist partner Mathias Näslund, who have apparently been inseparable since finding one another wearing the same then-hip Soviet CCCP hat and riding similar bikes as teens in 1991. “Die Young” is from the band’s full-length debut, Balcony Cigarettes, released last month on Leon Records.

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