Mando Diao: Paralyzed EP

Michael Beaumont

Check this out: it's a garage rock band with a sound akin to early Who, and maybe the Creation too, right, and they dress like a cross between '60s Mods and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, oh and get this, they're from Sweden!

Mando Diao

Paralyzed EP

Label: Mute
US Release Date: 2004-02-24
UK Release Date: 2004-02-23

Alright, I've got quite a treat for you here. Check this out: it's a garage rock band with a sound akin to early Who, and maybe the Creation too, right, and they dress like a cross between '60s Mods and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, oh and get this, they're from Sweden! Man, oh man, what a trip!

OK, OK. So Mando Diao is nothing new. And in this climate, we need another Scandinavian garage rock ensemble like we need a new Limp Bizkit album, so I'd love to toss Mando Diao's Paralyzed EP in the garbage, and be happy enough to keep my Hives and Flaming Sideburns albums as representatives of the early 21st century Scan-rock explosion. The trouble is, the Paralyzed EP is really, really good. And despite all my attempts and wishes to hate this band and this EP, I can't because it's just damn fine stuff.

Here's the problem. All this rehashing of garage-rock has had us all bemoaning the lack of originality in today's new rock 'n' roll bands, but is it a genre that really needs innovation? Isn't this particular strain of rock 'n' roll all about the songs and spit anyway? It's about the energy isn't it? And the tunes, and the look, and the way they make you bounce around your room, and scream out the songs in your car, while you drive way too fast to the bank, or the Laundromat, or whatever other boring-as-all-hell place you're no doubt in transit to. And it is that very thing that makes us love this primitive rock 'n' roll music. So who cares if they're innovative? As long as the songs kick ass, and they look like proper pop stars, why not just enjoy it for what it is. If you're able to give in to that mindset, then you'll find an awful lot to enjoy on this EP.

"Paralyzed" opens the 22-minute EP from Mando Diao's LP, Bring 'Em In. Think "My Generation" crossed with an early Stones song. It's a gem of a cut, with a great horn section and some hilariously arrogant lyrics: "She's not as beautiful as me / But she's as beautiful as she can be." And later on, the chorus offers up this bit of wisdom: "She's got a bent belt by her side / She's got that donkey paralyzed". Well, there you have it. I think we all can relate.

Next up is the Coral-like barnstormer "Chi - Ga", which gets about ten times more incredible each time you listen to it. Married to a strangely invigorating mariachi horn, the lyrics are no less impressive here, in Mando Diao's beautifully nonsensical way: "She can smell her next day, but it ain't gonna work if I cross her mind". Alright then. Suffice it to say the song is a freight train of majestic rock 'n' roll energy, with singer Björn Dixgård giving the performance of his young life. Actually it might be Gustaf Norén, as they share vocal duties and there are no credits on the EP, so hell if I know who's singing it, but whoever it is, he's brilliant.

Things slow down a bit next for the beautifully hung over, "How We Walk". A break-up song in the melancholy tradition of a classic Noel Gallagher acoustic b-side, it shows off an impressive range of not only Mando Diao's vocal abilities, but also of songwriting. And while the lyrics aren't brilliant, they are intelligible this time, and that's a good sign for a band of Mando Diao's persuasion. A little heart and heartbreak is good to break up the sonic assault now and then.

Filling out the EP are rip-roaring live versions of "Sheepdog", "Little Boy JR", and "Paralyzed". All rock ferociously, and serve as ample evidence of Mando Diao's no doubt visceral live show.

So there you have it, more god damn essential Swedish garage rock. Sure we've had quite enough, but when the music's this good, there's always room for one more.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.