Music

The Chrysler: Failures and Sparks

Welcome to Sweden, a land where country music sounds like Belle and Sebastian and debut albums have five bonus tracks.


The Chrysler

Failures and Sparks

Label: Parasol
US Release Date: 2005-10-18
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Insound affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

If you've heard of Swedish band The Chrysler, you have probably heard that at home they are considered a country band. Listening to their debut album, Failures and Sparks, this categorization is truly perplexing. Calling this album country music is like filing Radiohead under punk; there may be some similarities, but it certainly isn't an obvious choice. The beginning of the album is especially un-country. Songs like "What I Must Keep with Mine" and "When Sarah Came to Town" are closer to Coldplay and Sondre Lerche, and even the Ryan Adams-tinged "Holy Holy Holy" is at odds with the genre. Where country music is all about sweat, blood, and rule breaking, The Chrysler's David Bowie posh-ness and robotic drums can sound about as clean and cold as an IKEA catalog spread. The only question I can think to ask: is the label trying to sabotage these guys or what?

Once you recover from this gross misclassification, Failures and Sparks isn't such a bad listen. The tenth and final real album track (the disc includes five bonus tracks, a brazen gesture on an American debut), "Yours Sincerely" is the best song on the album, and aside from the delicate vocals, is close to country. It is a slow, bare-bones tune that uses (what sounds like) an accordion to a melancholy affect. The refrain, though fairly senseless, is ear-catching: "Honest to God, I read it somewhere."

There are not a lot of standout tracks here, and Failures and Sparks manages to sail along peacefully without measuring up to either part of its title. "Holy Holy Holy" stands out as a singable tune, but when followed by the dismal "When Sarah Came To Town", gets lost in the shuffle. "Revolution #1" is a jaunty Belle and Sebastian-esque number, and demonstrates a possible future direction for this disjointed band.

The lyrics range from competent to interesting, though the music doesn’t usually make the most of them. "Damn Straight Evil", a Zombies-tinged highlight, features some of the album's best:

"The adventure that will end your life, /

Blood, sweat and tears and common strife, /

Not a single ounce of magic left to squeeze, /

This summer's over, now it's your time to freeze."

Lyrics like this have the potential to pack a punch, but inevitably get lost in the uncertainty of The Chrysler’s melodies. A little bit of blood, sweat and tears would inevitably help, as would a bit more focus. So far, the Chrysler's biggest problems are an identity crisis and a few too many bonus tracks. Let's hope they can pull it together on album two.

5

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

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

rating-image