The Chrysler may not be the most exciting band to come out of Sweden in the past few years—they don’t have the pre-adolescent posture of We’re from Barcelona, the acoustic fortitude of Jose Gonzalez, or the electronic mastery of the Knife—but these Swedes use quiet acoustic folk rock, with soft dual vocals, to a pleasing effect. The band is frequently described as being in the vein of both Simon and Garfunkel and early Belle and Sebastian. Singers/vocalists Pelle Lindroth and Anders E. Rundstrom play the dual lead role, and their soothing croons and quiet guitars are only sparsely accompanied by a host of lightly played instruments.
The band’s stateside release is jam-packed with five bonus tunes just to satiate our consumerist desires. And Cold War Classic does the job; from the lazy harmonica on “Catholic Tuesday” to the glock nostalgia of “It Was 1982”, the Chrysler provide an array of humble, sincere folk songs to soothe the jaded hipster palate. The hooks are abundant but not intense or obvious; sort of like a diet, caffeine free version of Peter, Bjorn and John. The Chrysler is not trying to re-invent the wheel, but make a pretty dependable version of the old one.
The group ups the ante on this second album, gently placing the rock back into their cozy folk. The list of instruments on Cold War Classic is endless: melodica, glockenspiel, Steinway, trumpet, harmonica, euphonium, saxophone. This all suffuses a communal atmosphere to the stripped down folk that appeared on the Chrysler’s last album, Failures and Sparks. The compositions are still a bit subdued, but a tepid, yet broad, landscape of sound surrounds the traditional arrangements. As Rudstrom starts off “St. Petersburg”, his soft, mellow vocals set a mild tone before giving way to an adorably misplaced trumpet. This sets off what eventually becomes a crescendo of horns and vocal harmonies.
“Thinking About the Brown Haired Boy” supplies a dose of harmonica and a chorus of “la, la"s as Lindroth’s innocent voice gently exclaims how it’s “such a beautiful day” in a rather convincing, non-clichéd manner. Perhaps the album’s most upbeat assessment comes with “The Tide Is High”. A bevy of horns, ecstatic snare drums, and Rundstrom’s optimistic speculation that “miracles can happen” all give “The Tide Is High” its sunny disposition and Cold War Classic its most redeemable track.
The Chrysler does not keep up for long the tempo however, as “Failures and Sparks” and “Blue Gold” start off what becomes a lazy bloc of songs smack in the middle of Cold War Classic. “It Was 1982” briefly uplifts us by providing a dose of Belle and Sebastian-type folk pop before “Catholic Tuesday” morosely, yet genuinely, reflects on “burning bridges”. And just when you thought you’d had enough Swedish folk, the whistling lullaby of “Tonight I Don’t Sleep” kicks off a set of five extra bonus tracks (which includes a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Changing of the Guards”).
As with most 18-track albums, the Chrysler probably could have shaved a few songs off of Cold War Classic. Some of the more downtrodden selections tend to weigh down an album which is already rife with quiet, mellow folk pop. The duo of Rundstrom and Lindroth has a songwriting approach that doesn’t exactly rival Simon and Garfunkel, but there is an endearing quality to their simplistic songs. Cold War Classic is certainly a step in the right direction for these Swedish folksters.
Sci-Fi Author Ursula LeGuin's Stories of Class War, Religious Dissension, Identity Politics and More