Personnel: Gustav Ejstes (vocals, guitar, organ); Petter Winnberg (vocals, guitar); Amanda Bergman (vocals, synthesizer, background vocals); Pontus Winnberg (piano, synthesizer, background vocals); Nils Törnqvist (drums, percussion, background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Johannes Berglund.
Recording information: Ingrid Studios; Spegeln and Ingrid Studios; Spegeln Studios.
The Swedish indie pop group Amason do a fine job embodying the sound of their home country on their debut album, Sky City. Sleek, sophisticated, slightly reserved, and suffused with melody, they end up somewhere between the Concretes and Peter Bjorn and John on the Swedish pop spectrum, which turns out to be a nice place to reside. Featuring a collection of musicians from established bands like Miike Snow, Dungen, and Little Majorette, it's clear that they have the chops to deliver a solid pop album and they certainly do here. With songs that range from soft rock pastiches (the America-quoting "Kelly") to tiny pieces of dramatic melancholy ("Went to War") and quite a few that seem like they came from the pages of PB and J's songbook ("Blackfish"), the band is working a narrow seam of music bordered by Fleetwood Mac on one side and, well, Peter Bjorn and John on the other. This laser-pointed focus serves them well, as it sets a mood that's never broken and deepens as the album goes on. Even the couple of songs that boost the tempo a bit (the rambunctious "NFB") or stretch out some (the atmospheric instrumental "Pink Amason") fit perfectly within the overall aesthetic. Also making the album a delight are the lovely vocals of Amanda Bergman, whose raspy croon delivers maximum impact with minimal fuss, an approach that fits well with the restraint that's shown with both the tightly drawn arrangements and the uncluttered production. There are a couple moments where the album gets overly somber, and the saxophone solo on "Kelly" should have been left on the cutting-room floor, but for the most part Sky City is a promising, quietly satisfying debut. ~ Tim Sendra