Strangely Beautiful (Hidden Agenda Records)
By: Scott D. Lewis
After a bit of arty experimentation, the fifth album from Swedish duo Club 8 finds them back doing what the do best: crafting breezy, Cardigans-styled dream-pop with a decidedly retro-continental flair. Borrowing the best parts of the Cocteau Twins ... the breathy and hypnotic female vocals ... and Stereolab ... the synthesized, suave and sexy sounds ... Club 8 creates a world all unto its own. It's a decidedly pretty place where you'd feel equally at home sliding out onto the dance floor as snuggling up in a beanbag chair with a special, sweet-smelling someone. Much of Strangely Beautiful sounds like what might happen if Abba crawled into bed with the Carpenters and they all took some clean X and strong morphine, and I say that as a positive thing. A touch of a spectral Astrud Gilberto sneaks into the footloose, pop-samba of The Next Step You'll Take, for which Karolina Komstedt's air-brushed voice becomes a small chorus of angels. The following The Beauty of the Way We're Living, will sound strangely familiar to those even casually aquatinted with the genre Club 8 is immersed in, but the hypnotic bit is all there own, and don't think you can call where this band will go next. Just when you think you've got them pegged, numbered and filed, they whip out Saturday Night Engine, which is the best Flaming Lips song the Flaming Lips never did. This is definitely a case where the album title says it all.
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