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Pelle Carlberg
Everything. Now!
Twentyseven Records

At first glance, the most striking feature of Pelle Carlberg's solo debut is the track listing. It seems an artist with songs titles like "How I Broke My Foot And Met Jesus" and "Go to Hell, Miss Rydell" might offer manic comedy echoing Frank Zappa, or caustic rock and roll that would make Liam Gallagher proud. In reality, Everything. Now! has very little of either. What Carlberg's record does feature are hushed guitars, reflective lyrics, and stunningly sincere songs.

Carlberg, who has also recorded three full-length albums with the band Edson, offers both lush, orchestral pop-rock and acoustic ballads. His vocals often recall Morrissey's morbid laments, but his assured guitar work and the rich arrangements keep the music from becoming dour. There is a dreamlike quality to the record, and it becomes more cohesive with each play.

Like Morrissey, Carlberg is an unconventional lyricist, but his poetry is disarmingly straightforward. In the same way Björk turns a phrase as if she has little sense of the way people actually speak, many of the album's finest lyrical moments are both simple and unorthodox.

The beautiful (and bizarrely titled) "Musikbyrån Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack" opens the album with a reflection on the untimely death of Warren Zevon. Carlberg comments on the tragedy with self-effacing sincerity. The song transitions into the hilarious "Bastards Don't Blush," which introduces us to Carlberg's left-field sense of humor. Sarcasm and bitterness are scattered throughout these songs, but they only add another dimension to a very human album.

Carlberg's songs are portraits of everyday life. Nowhere are his observations sharper than on the closer "Mind The Gap." The song is an affecting meditation on the human tendency to turn away from pain and suffering. "It's sad to see how people look away," Carlberg sings, but he doesn't let the song run its course without a smirk. He later reflects, "I wanted to ask her what she meant / If she had a brain made of cement." The song ties together all of Carlberg's considerable talents.

The plaintive acoustic guitar on "Telemarketing" manages to turn something hopelessly mundane into poetry. "Don't sell me things that I don't need / Don't make me buy your scheme / I can't say no to a human voice," he sings. The final sentence explains exactly how Pelle Carlberg took eleven very good songs and made them into one great album. For whatever reason, records that reflect the record-maker have always been rare, and Carlberg confesses just enough to make this a beautiful, remarkably human piece of work.

-Dan Warren

Track Listing:
1. Musikbyrån Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack
2. Bastards Don't Blush
3. Telemarketing
4. A Tasteless Offer
5. Go To Hell, Miss Rydell
6. Riverbank
7. Oh No! It's Happening Again
8. How I Broke My Foot And Met Jesus
9. Summer Of '69
10. I Had A Guitar (Bjärton and I)
11. Mind The Gap

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