Photographer: Thom Ulmer.
Club 8 mastermind and Swedish pop legend Johan Angergård has a restless musical soul, and his work with the Legends has reflected that from the start. Beginning as a noise pop band in the vein of the Jesus and Mary Chain, then moving through icy synth pop, bopping new wave, and slick dance-pop, his solo project has covered a lot of ground. After a long break (which saw him exploring African pop on Club 8's The People's Record and mainstream radio pop with Eternal Death), the fifth Legends album, It's Love, is a quiet, introspective synth pop album that details both the breakup of his long-term relationship and his angst about turning 40. The lyrical content is bleak, sometimes even harsh, but delivered with understated passion. Both Angergård's restrained vocals and the sparsely chilly, but never cold, musical backing keep things from getting too heavy. The songs veer from almost bouncy, as on the duet with Club 8's Karolina Komstedt "Winter Is the Warmest Season," to slow and sad, like on the heart-bending "All About Us." It mostly leans toward the sad end of the spectrum, which isn't a surprise considering the record's subject matter, but the lively near-disco track "The Great Unknown" goes a long way toward breaking up the gloom. Throughout, Angergård displays his usual sure hand at crafting memorable melodies and pitch-perfect arrangements. The layering of vocals and synths is smoothly beautiful, the use of lo-fi drum machines is a nice humanizing touch, and the overall feel of the album is wonderfully melancholic. He wasn't planning to make another Legends album after 2009's noisy Over and Over, but anyone who's a fan of thoughtful pop music that takes its time and reaches deep for real emotions should be glad he relented and made It's Love. ~ Tim Sendra