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Oh Laura: A Song Inside My Head, a Demon in My Bed *

Album Notes

Even down to their choice of a female name in the band's moniker, Swedish indie rockers Oh, Laura have a lot in common with long-running Dutch alt-rockers Bettie Serveert. Oh, Laura features a female singer (not named Laura, but Frida Ohrn) with a distinctive, slightly hoarse tone that occasionally recalls Bettie Serveert's Carol van Dyk (and, more surprisingly, '70s folk-pop icon Melanie, especially on the starkly emotional "Release Me"), in front of a band that comfortably mixes acoustic, country-tinged elements with their fuzzy electric indie pop. At times the country side dominates, as on the twangy ballad "Out of Bounds" and the skeletal, intimate "Thunderbird Motel," which veers into Lucinda Williams territory. But for most of the awkwardly titled A Song Inside My Head, A Demon in My Bed, Oh, Laura skillfully blend more subtle Nashville-style elements into their low-key indie pop tunes, as on the dramatic single "A Call to Arms" and the slinky "Black 'n' Blue," which incorporates a Calexico-style spaghetti western percussion part. The album's one possible flaw is that even though all of the album's yearning and heartfelt ballads are extremely well constructed and perfectly realized, a few more uptempo songs would shake things up a bit. Even the resolutely midtempo "Fine Line" boosts the album's energy level around the halfway point, and just one or two more jolts like that would potentially turn a very good debut into a great one. ~ Stewart Mason


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