Clash (magazine) - "`Don't Give Up' is uplifting despite its deep, underlying sadness. It's not devoid of occasional lyrical wit, either..."
Personnel: Niklas Angergård (vocals, acoustic guitar); Kristina Borg (vocals).
Recording information: Summersound Studios.
Vocalist: Niklas Angergård.
After not making music together for almost two decades, the members of the Swedish indie pop group Red Sleeping Beauty (minus bassist Carl Johan Näsström) re-formed in 2014 to start recording again. While they had a chirpy, jangly C-86-inspired sound in their initial incarnation, their 2016 album, Kristina, has a sleeker, fuller sound with lots of synths and keys taking the place of gently strummed guitars. What remains is the sweetly melancholy feeling their best songs of the past brought about: Niklas Angergård and Kristina Borg's yearning vocals and a classically Swedish sense of warmth that bubbles to the surface even when the sounds are chilly and controlled. Even though the core strengths of the group haven't disappeared, the shift in production and arrangement may be off-putting to some fans who wanted them to resurrect their original sound. It's a totally understandable reaction since the album could have used a few more guitar jangles and a few less synth whooshes, and a few songs with a little more energy and drive. Tracks like "Mi Amor" and "Don't Give In, Don't Give Up" are a little too slick and relaxed, a few others just drift by on an amply cushioned pillow of soft sounds. It's extremely pleasant, but hard to really fall in love with. Only a couple songs stand out in a positive way. The bouncy synth pop of "If You Want Affection" scores with a sweepingly sad chorus and lots of blippy, vintage-sounding keys, "Cheryl, Cheryl, Bye" has a lovely vocal melody and a huge chorus that sounds stolen from a 10cc album, and "I am the Artist" ends the album with a nicely loping beat and more synth pop goodness. Mostly, though, the album ambles by without really making much of an impression. Giving Kristina a spin isn't a bad way to spend 35 minutes, not by any stretch, but it may not be the most exciting or inspiring way to pass the time. ~ Tim Sendra