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(Labrador; US: 20 Jan 2008; UK: Available as import)

The Swedes have birthed yet another unique and lovely pop music child. With Labrador behind them, Sambassadeur have composed an album that’s enchanting, fluid, and a delightful success. Migration coats heartache with delicious pop charm and is full of sunny appeal. Clean chords, crisp percussion, and breathy vocals all project a worry-free air. The majority of the tracks play with brighter tempos, and a few delve into softer ballads; each are catchy and have distinctive charm.

Primary vocalist Anna Persson exhales innocence, her voice fluidly weaving through each track. Her presence remains in tune with the ensemble and serves as an excellent parallel to the loveliness and rosy orchestrations being created. The opening track “The Park” is a great kick-off to this collection because it musically paints a sense of optimism and ease, commanding attention. Disarming and memorable, Migration uses lush strings, quick continual percussion, and simplistic melodies that give space for repeated playback.

As sweet as these outward dimensions are, darker hues await underneath. Sounds are deceiving on this release; the sunny musicianship serves as a clever guise for underlying themes of pain, bitterness, and betrayal. It’s a dynamic contrast that makes the light and the dark even more alluring. Never overly nostalgic or lost in the words, they’ve created a combination that any listener can sing along with and find depth in the guise of what may first appear as typical airy pop. The album’s first single,“Subtle Changes”, tells the story of betrayal amongst friends with the singer lamenting “I just lost my way when I saw you with him”. With a lovely saxophone, strings, and a persevering beat, these sounds on their own give a sense of triumph and elation. But with the vocals, the track finds depth in an innocent façade and exhibits confidence in toying with opposing moods and tones.

The majority of this album lyrically addresses more melancholic themes, yet the music itself portrays a much brighter image. This veil is dropped for a few tracks when the musicians tap into ballads and match tempos with emotions. “Migration” takes a dreamy pace and uses slower guitar chords to set up the song’s motif of passing time and waiting. This track separates itself from the others because it dives into the emotion and still maintains a large sense of overall lightness. The other ballad, “Fallin’ in Love”, lacks a certain energy and comparatively is not memorable amongst the other songs. Yet even with that minor miss, Sambassadeur finish the album with “Calvi”, a purely instrumental track that summarizes the album’s main strength. It’s not in the words—in fact it feels like they deliberately go against the lyrics—but what matters is the music and how harmonies can transform the listener.

No matter the harmonies and themes coming off this album, there is consistent maturity in Migration that displays the group’s solid rooting in themselves, their messages, and music. Their bright disposition never bores because they make sure to reveal just enough sadness, making their music human and avoiding one-dimensional levels. Sambassadeur’s album is darling and finds success in revealing its heart through upbeat and engaging pop music.


Tagged as: sambassadeur
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