Richard Poulin 7-May-2008 Bye Bye Dear Everything

Personnel :
Christian Haglund / Bass
Klas Bohlin/ Vocal
Joakim Adriansson / Guitar
Sanjin Pejkovic / Lead Guitar
Torbjörn Georgsson / Organ & Piano
Rasso Raissi / Drums

Depressive Art is anything but depressive. ‘Depressive’ refers here to the melancholy that characterizes the musical quest of a group of musicians who wish very hard they had been born 40 years earlier. This is a Swedish group founded in 2003 that includes 6 young men very deeply immersed in the zeitgeist of the ‘60s. And they truly believe in their art which is neither imitative nor derivative. Reading about the band, one realizes that these guys are very much enamored with the spirit, the attitude and the style of the ‘60s. So much that they visited Woodstock, historic record shops in Britain and even remote places in the southwestern American deserts, to immerse themselves and travel back to a ‘60s state of mind. And apparently, they were transmogrified by what seems to be a very profound and very sincere desire to incorporate in their music various elements of what made the second half of the ‘60s so terrific, so exciting and so unique.

It takes a certain time to get used the chameleonic voice of Klas Bohlin, a very peculiar singer who curiously sounds like a Madonna who would be born with a Y chromosome. His ability to vary his pitch, his delivery, his timbre and his amplitude as a function of the type of song is really amazing. Yet his throaty style of singing is not what one would call agreeable at first. And I was at first baffled by the garage style, until I had the opportunity to listen several times to the album. And once you get used to the deliberate confusion and mushiness typical of the garage genre, the songs truly start to get under your skin.

Their first full album (they released several demos before this album), ‘Bye Bye Dear Everything’ is extremely addictive. There is a conviction, an earnestness and a passion in their music that is guaranteed to infiltrate your neurons like tentacular sonic snatchers. And I did listen to their album repeatedly for a whole weekend, mesmerized by the incredible accomplishment of theirs. They have packed 10 tracks full of energetic rock & roll (sometimes with tints of Swedish folk music), ballads and doo-wop that have a charm rarely found in similar efforts to plunge oneself back to a period of history which is foreign to these musicians, after all. Depressive Art manages to deliver tunes that sound sixty-ish without doing actual impressions of ‘60s songs. The balance between the use of typical tricks and mannerisms of that period (for example, standard vocal harmonies a la Beach Boys, infectious guitar riffs a la Keith Richards, rhythmic intros a la Ventures, etc.) and their very own sound is really successful. As a result, ‘Bye Bye Dear Everything’ does not sound like your standard parody of the ‘60s but rather like their highly personal rendition of many of the most famous songs and interprets of their beloved segment of rock history.

This is uncomplicated music but with outstanding melodic qualities and an assurance that manages to entrance the listener. With a bunch of friends, put on ‘Bye Bye...’ and play the game of who will be the first to guess ‘whom are they sounding like?’ Some of the songs are straightforward. Without giving the answers here, you should find out that one song sounds vividly like ‘Helter Skelter’ played by the Doors and fronted by a John Lennon shouting his very best, complete with the finale with the electric guitar crashing and the brutal amp feedback. Just like on the ‘White Album’, I’ll tell you. You will hear their own garag-ed brand of ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’, and, of course, the easiest one, a song that will take you one picosecond to figure out that Jim Morrison is back and invading Sweden! With chunks of Led Zeppelin and bits of early Floydian expressions, a hefty dose of Doors/Jim Morrison, lots of Rolling Stones, the Byrds, Mamas and the Papas and Beatles, and crooner ballads a la Moody Blues, the pastiched but very personal recipe of Depressive Art works surprisingly well. So try to find the telltale moments where all these illustrious models are heard on the album. This can also be a lot of fun in many ways....

The down side is also what makes it so distinctive: let keep in mind that this is garage rock, and the sound quality is expectedly rough-edged and the instruments are sometimes entangled into an amorphous grainy blob. But these musicians perspire such an emotion, such a sincerity in their tunes that one can hardly remain indifferent to their extraordinary achievement at incorporating iconic segments of the ‘60s style into a sound of their own. And yes, I finally managed to develop much of a taste for Klas’ distinctive vocal technique... The singing is often emotional in the best way, that is, believable. After all, how can one not become moved to tears of sympathy by lyrics (included with the CD) in Swedeglish such as ‘We can TRANSFORMATE us/Yeah we can become, everyone’. This is so cute.... and touching.

They are also very generous, and so certain that you will become Depressive Art fans that you can download their album for free on their official website.

I wish for them that they find the time warp that would allow a well deserved trip back to Psychedelia and Ladyland. I’m now waiting for a garage version of German baroque music in the times of Johann Sebastian Bach.

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