Looking to win that argument at a party or in a record store about which criminally underappreciated band deserves to absolutely blow up and could if the circumstances were right? Mention The Perishers. With an abundance of talent, the Swedish quartet has flown under the radar more often than necessary, existing as a less heralded counterpart to contemporaries like Coldplay and Snow Patrol. Like those bands, The Perishers traffic in earnestly melodic vocals and subdued rock and roll tones. While the band employs some of the dynamic give and take of their highly praised colleagues, at times they rely less on anthem and drive and more on atmosphere and temperament.
The band’s last album, 2003’s Let There Be Morning was an admirable sophomore project and featured the wonderful opening track “Weekends.” Lyrically, the song was simplistic yet, through the sympathetic vocal delivery of Ola Klüft, it brilliantly captured universally experienced sentiments about the drudgery of a middle class, clock punching lifestyle and the joy that even the smallest moments of liberation can afford. The song was a perfect summation of what makes The Perishers great (artistically) and what could make them great (commercially).
Their third record, Victorious is an extension of the artistic values the band displayed on “Weekends” and at other moments throughout Let There Be Morning . A consistently stronger album than its predecessor, Victorious showcases the band’s sonic maturity and continued focus on connecting with their audience through melodic sensibilities and tender sensitivities.
The album opens inconspicuously with gentle guitar tones on “Midnight Skies.” Klüft sets the emotional temperature of the song with his thoughtful vocals before the rest of the band enters, adding support and texture; as the song expands over the course of four and a half minutes, it grows monumentally in beauty and force. Of a similar ilk, “Never Bloom Again” follows. It’s a slight yet affecting ballad built more for mood and ambience than for anything else. The band dials up the tempo and rhythmic pulse on its next offering, “Carefree” which, with its indie rock drive, shimmering organ and straightforward melody, sounds like a much happier version of a Pedro the Lion song.
While the band’s most engaging moments are often on ballads, the up-tempo tracks on Victorious work just as well and round out The Perishers’ sound nicely. The album’s title tracks features some quality guitar passages from Klüft and marry the sounds of the British Invasion, heartland rock and modern adult alternative in an astonishingly seamless fashion. On such tracks, The Perishers sound self-assured and the confidence and passion with which the songs are played is appealing.
“Best Friends” is a track that falls somewhere in the middle of the band’s sonic spectrum and is one of the most charismatic songs on the record. Klüft’s guitar and Martin Gustafson’s keyboards trade melodic passages while the rhythm section of Pehr Åström (bass) and Thomas Hedlund (drums) create a groove that gives support and space to Klüft’s reflective and regretful vocals. Songs like “Best Friends” or the beautiful ballad “My Own” are the types of tracks, which if given the right platform or audience, could propel the band into another level of success. The latter, features an undemanding indie rock beat and a gorgeous, heartbreaking vocal from Klüft whose vocal presence and charisma is enhanced so much by the fact that he sounds like an ordinary guy, making his pain and success seem more like the listener’s pain and success.
No assessment of Victorious would be quite complete without discussion of the album’s closing couplet, “8 a.m. Departure” and “Get Well”. Both are tracks that display a wealth of heart. The former receives its shape from Gustafson’s playing and the faint accents brought on by electronic and ambient sounds while the latter is a great closing track featuring luscious harmonies and an incredibly heartrending melody.
The band’s best effort to date, Victorious is proof positive that The Perishers deserve mention among the most promising bands of this present time. Stirring yet subtle, the band has a special power to engage with listeners that few groups can claim to possess.