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By a long shot, one of the best pure pop bands of the mid-to-late 90’s is Sweden’s The Merrymakers. I know you’re probably saying, “Merry-who?” If you’ve never heard of this band and think of the Cardigans as Sweden’s best pop export, it’s not surprising. The band has been around since 1991 and has had hits in Europe and Japan, but has never gotten a U.S. release. Thankfully that oversight has finally been addressed with the February release of 1997’s Bubblegun, which for pop collectors like myself, also includes a second bonus disc with five tracks from their classic 1995 debut No Sleep ‘Til Famous.


While the lyrics could stand some minor improvement, the band is musically flawless, proffering infectious tunes that lodge in your head, seemingly permanently. A strong Jellyfish strain runs through the songs, which is not surprising given that Andy Sturmer produced a couple of the tracks. Other obvious reference points include The Beatles, Queen, Crowded House, and Squeeze.

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Sarah Zupko founded PopMatters, one of the largest independent cultural criticism magazines on the web, back in the Internet's early days of 1999. Zupko is a former Executive Producer for Tribune Media Services, the media syndication arm of the Tribune Company, and a 10-year veteran of Tribune. Her other pursuits involve writing historical fiction and research in the fields of Slavic and German history, as well as general European cultural and intellectual history. Zupko studied musicology, film, and drama at the University of Chicago and media theory at the University of Texas, where she received her M.A.


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