It should almost be law that any male/female duo that forms a band must date, then break up, but keep the band together. The best music comes from those songs wrought from spending every day with someone you used to love but now would rather probe with an ice pick. The benchmark, of course, is Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, with Everything But The Girl's Amplified Heart a close second. EBTG's Ben and Tracey clearly didn't get the memo about breaking up, yet they seem oddly capable or writing songs as if they did.
Enter Sweden's Club 8, who fit the date/break up/keep the band criteria perfectly. Their new album, Spring Came Rain Fell, is pretty but sad, and while there isn't anything with the gravity of "Dreams", "Go Your Own Way" or "Rollercoaster" on it, it is a perfectly enjoyable if lightweight album of bittersweet sendoffs and second guesses. Fans of St. Etienne, Hooverphonic, the Cardigans and Dubstar in particular should take note.
"We're Simple Minds" starts with a spaghetti western guitar riff that's straight from the Hooverphonic canon. Club's lyrics are slightly better ("I never can tell what's inside me / And heaven knows it isn't that much"), though just about anyone can outdo Hooverphonic in the lyrics department. The title track is a Cardigans-esque piece of wistful indie pop, its title a metaphor for what tends to happen to young love: "Spring came, rain fell / We ended up nowhere / June came, sun shone / Are we still nowhere?"
"Close to Me" is proof positive that songwriter and uber-instrumentalist Johan Angergärd has Air's Moon Safari in power rotation, with bubbly space synthesizers and a fat bass keyboard riff ala "Sexy Boy". He sings this one as well, with a tenor that's almost as light as bombshell singer Karolina Komstedst's airy alto. "Spring Song" is called an instrumental, and technically it is. More accurately, though, it's a 20-second segueway into the next song and nothing more. "I Give Up Too" is another teaser track, consisting solely a lick of the lyric for the second to last track "The Girl with the Northern Soul Collection". The payoff is nice when the latter song finally pops up, but it seems to be a ruse to distract you from the fact that the album is barely 32 minutes long.
"The Chance I Deserve" has the potential to be a Garbage-type rocker, with a killer hook in the chorus. Club 8's preference, however, is to rock it like Belle & Sebastian, which is to say, not rock at all. Still, it's equally as catchy as your favorite Garbage tune. It just lacks the punch. "Karen's House" recalls '90s folkies Frente, but better, with a bouncy acoustic guitar riff that at first seems at odds with the oodles of keyboards surrounding it on other songs. The album closes with "We Set Ourselves Free", a simple and stately framed look over the shoulder that has fewer lyrics than even Teenage Fanclub's "What You Do to Me", but nails its point just as succinctly. "We set ourselves free, and now we'll be forever wondering."
Spring Came, Rain Fell is lovely but slight, a pretty girl whose face you can't remember 20 minutes later. There is some genuine songcraft here, but their approach is so low key that the best moments nearly go unnoticed. But there is still enough here to make you want to remember what that pretty girl looked like.