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Kent Hagnesta Hill Review

Kent
Hagnesta Hill (RCA)

Out July 24
Rating: 4 out of 5
Melody Maker Magazine

"Mound Force!"

It's a quiet, subdued revolution, but things are changing. The recent crowning glory came when Coldplay romped to Number Four with "Yellow", but big emotional rock has been making its presence felt, albeit subtly, for the last few months, creeping in like smoke under the slammed doors or UK garage and nu-metal. You don't notice it's there until you're overcome by it, and Kent are on hand with a box of matches and a fistful of fire lighters, ready to do their bit.

Their intention is laid out from the start, their caps slyly tipped to The Smiths with "The King Is Dead". As singer Joakim Berg allows himself a rare moment of arrogance in the middle of his insecurities ("My IQ allows me to brush you aside"), it's the kind of thing Manson would have come up with if they'd never stopped to think about stripping vicars or people shaped like chicken ovum and had gone straight to wide open spaces - all Tolkeinesque fairy tales about tyrannical kings and their long-suffering ladies. If they'd an album full of this, it would have become a huge embarrassment but, like a lot of the work here, it's very much a one-off. "Heavenly Junkies", for example, couldn't be more different, being an emotionally detached, Suede-spangled glammy stomper, the euphoric chorus juddering like it's just downed a whole crate full of ice-cold Metz. Joined by "Just Like Money" and "Music Non Stop", it shows up the less introvert side of the band, the side with its dancing shoes firmly on.

"Hagnesta Hill" is the kind of album that makes you think of lots of bands you've known and loved, but still manages to stamp an identity of its own. "Stop Me June (Little Ego)" has the tearful ghost of Nick Cave's "Ship Song" twinkling through it, but it seems to be something that Joakim has ripped, still beating and bleeding, out of his own chest, even when he's singing about something as small fry and insignificant as being a bit chilly because he lost his scarf at the bus stop. "Kevlar Soul", meanwhile has a mournful harmonica wailing over it, like Stevie Wonder suddenly finding himself on the bus in the middle of the classic late-sixties film "Midnight Cowboy". And it's gorgeous. As is the nocturnal "Quiet Heart", a beauty hidden in the middle of it all, reminiscent of Mojave 3 at their most moving, when they're capable of making you cry your eyes out at four o'clock in the morning. Must be those long Scandinavian winter nights these Swedes have to cope with.

It may be the fourth album that Kent have ever made, but, like their namesake Clark, now could be the time that they can rip off those spectacles, put their pants over their trousers and turn into Supermen.

Emma Johnston


Kent Vapen & Ammunition Review

KENT
VAPEN & AMMUNITION

ALBUM RCA, BMG, RELEASE: APRIL 15, 2002, REVIEW: APRIL 12, 2002
Rating: 9/10
Release Music Magazine - www.releasemagazine.net

Somehow, it seems almost too obvious to give the new album by Kent the next highest grade available. But what can I do? None of the songs on “Vapen & ammunition” are worth a grade lower than an eight, and a few are definitely worth a ten.

But lets start at the beginning: This is an album eagerly awaited by every die-hard fan of Kent's special brand of emopop. The wait has lasted for two years; not counting the B-sides collection that was released 2000. And it has been a worthwhile wait. “Vapen & ammunition” is musically one step back and two steps forward for the best-selling Swedish quintet.

The more electronically sounding songs from “Hagnesta Hill” is all but gone, but the eighties-feeling that reverberated through, among others, “En himmelsk drog” is subtly recaptured and refined in the new hit single “Dom andra”. Apart from that, this is a Kent we both now of old, and a Kent looking towards the future. The rolling guitars of the past are here, but so are the calmness and thoughtfulness from both “Isola” and “Hagnesta Hill”.

Speaking of the old albums. Kent have stated in quite a few interviews that this time around they wanted to make a record where they concentrated on each and every song and made it a possible hit, instead of trying to make a record that fit together. I can’t but say that they have succeeded. Even the acoustic collaboration with guitar legend Jojje Wadenius “Sverige” defends its place among the poppier and rockier songs.

Right now, my favourites are catchy “Pärlor”, cool “FF” - featuring French singer Nancy Danino, and the great song “Socker”. But even as I write them down, I can feel my preferences changing, which is a sign of the hit qualities of the album.

Kent have always been compared to Radiohead, and been described as a Swedish clone of the brilliant Brits. This time, there simply can not be such a comparison.

Kent have finally and truly found a sound of their own. I hope they stick to it and develop from here. Wherever they go, we still will have this masterpiece. It has saved my spring and possibly the rest of the year too. For once, I lack words. I want to make you all understand what a great album this is, but I guess you will have to listen to it yourselves.

Please do.

KALLE MALMSTEDT


Kent Du Och Jag Döden Review

Du & Jag Döden by Kent

by Magnus Strinnholm, 2006-12-21
Sputnickmusic - www.sputnikmusic.com

Summary: Kent goes back to their melodic sound once again which turns out to be a huge success.

Reviewing a Swedish album on this site may not be the brightest of choices I've made in my life. But I just couldn't resist when I had such a "moment" with it earlier this morning. Around 8:30 AM I was on my way to work, only to notice I haven't changed any albums on my mp3-player in about two months and I was sick of listening to the same things day in and day out. I settled for Swedish indie rock/pop favourites latest full length, "Du & Jag Döden" (English translation "You & Me Death") and was hooked once again. This CD comes out ten years after their self-titled debut and much have happened since. It was also released on lead singer and songwriter Joakim Bergs birthday. I haven't really listened much to them this past year. While I was searing through the suburban Stockholm Martin Sköld's explosive bass intro to "400 Slag" kicks in. It continues with the kicking bass and Markus Mustonen's drums and some occasional guitar slide fills the first 40 seconds of the album before it's tuned down and lead singer Joakim Berg comes in. It's a great album opener, explosive but yet emotional. This first song really sets the standard for the sound on this album. As the name suggests, it's dark and heavy and the sound reminds me heavily of my favourite Kent album, "Isola". Their previous album released in 2002, "Vapen & Ammunition" was more of a pop album while "Isola" had a more atmospheric and alive sound.

The second track is entitled "Du Är Ånga" (English translation "You Are Steam") got a rockier feeling with a sound that can be compared to their debut album. I'm not very fond of this song; I'm not into their rockier stuff and early stuff and would like a little more melodic feeling, something I feel this song lacks. It's upbeat and got a good rhythm but it doesn't really appeal me. Following this is a more melodic track, "Den Döda Vinkeln" (English translation "The Dead Angle") kicking off with an acoustic guitar picking through the intro and the first verse and chorus. After the chorus the tempo goes up and the song goes into a nice little interlude with guitar and piano solos. The vocals on this track are the strongest so far. Joakim Berg can do amazing things with his voice in addition to a great melody. This song has it both. The songs that follows doesn't stand out as much but the second single "Palace & Main" has sort of a history to tell. The lyrics are well written and interesting and it got a heavy and fast pace. The video they shot for this single was of course set in Vegas, where they sent their guitarist Harri Mänty to place a 15000$ bet on black. He won. This was all done authentic and they donated the money they won to charity. Well, the song isn't one of my favourite but it got some sweet lyrics. Like the open lines with "Jag sköt en DJ sent igår" och "och mitt indiehjärta slår och slår och slår" (English translations, "I shot a DJ late last night" & "and my indieheart beats and beats and beats").

Following is the first real acoustic track. It's basically a slow picking acoustic guitar and Joakim's voice. It's called "Järnspöken" (English translation Iron Ghosts) and is somewhat a tribute to their old hometown Eskilstuna. It's not a weak track but it might scare the casual listener away. Any how, Joakim does a great job with his vocals and I really like this song. Following this "Klåparen", (English translation "The Bungler"). It's a soft song and when listening to it I see dimmed lights of different colours fading on and off for some reason. Joakim's voice is mellow and the song features lots of small guitar solo fills by Sami Sirviö that gives the song a great feeling. Following in the same setting is the first single "Max 500". It starts with a riff that sounds most like a xylophone. The whole song is basically written around this riff, it only pauses for a few second in the verses when Joakim is singing and most of the times it just fills the void where they doesn't use any vocals. It's a neat riff and it doesn't get annoying. The chorus is explosive, strong and a real highlight. "Romeo Återvänder Ensam" (English translation "Romeo Returns Alone") is another track that stands out. It fades in with drumming and the vocals come in quite right away. The only thing I can complain about this song is that the lyrics are a little bit too vague and doesn't make much sense at all.

The only real disappointment of the album is "Rosor & Palmblad" (English translation "Roses & Palm Leaves". It is basically a dark piano playing throughout the song and both the lyrics and vocals feels uninspired and the whole song got a sort of "filler-vibe". The ending track though is an amazing mixture of everything good with Kent. It is called "Mannen I Den Vita Hatten (16 År Senare) (Translation "The Man In The White Hat (16 Years Later)" and consists of soft, acoustic and great finger picking which opens the song and plays for about 40 seconds before the rest of the band comes in. Together they build up the intensity in the song and then take it slow again when the vocals come in. It's a long, close to the epic "747" from "Isola". I personally divide the song into three pieces, the soft build-up with acoustic and electric guitar riffs. The middle section with the great vocals and the amazing and strong outro with some incredible lyrics. Too bad I can't translate those good enough into English because they are really top notch written paragraphs and metaphors.

I recommend this album to everyone, not only Swedish listeners. This CD relies a lot on vocal harmonies and instrumentals and this doesn't get ruined even if you don't know the language. Kent's previous albums (except maybe "Isola") have relied very much on Joakim Berg's lyrics, while this one as I said mostly use harmonies as the edge of the songs. They have with this album proven that they are a bunch of great musicians. Joakim's lyrics are well written as always and their music has grown a lot since their last two albums. Kent has once again proven that they still are the greatest band in Sweden, ten years into their career.

Recommended tracks are:
* 400 Slag
* Max 500
* Den Döda Vinkeln
* Mannen I Den Vita Hatten (16 År Senare).

Overall Rating : 4.5/5


Kent Tillbaka Till Samtiden Review

Kent - Tillbaka Till Samtiden Review

Leading up to the release of Tillbaka Till Samtiden there was a lot of talk about the band going all Depeche Mode techno-ish, and after hearing the finished product I can say the comparisons are somewhat true, especially early on in the album. But Kent has never been the kind of band to simply copy another's style and leave it at that; one gets the feeling that would offend their creativity. On this album they take the 80s synthesizers and electronica and mix it with the traditional brilliant Kent songwriting to create a result definitely all their own.

Like their previous album Du Och Jag Döden, the two strongest songs are the first and the last. The opener "Elefanter" takes you on an adventurous musical journey. It begins as a ballad with a haunting trumpet but then merges into a Depeche Mode style, pumping techno-fest. Elefanter, along with the smooth radio-friendly Berlin and the hit single Ingenting make for a very strong opening trio of songs. They also reinforce the notion that Tillbaka Till Samtiden is going to be a techno album.

Another album highlight is the fifth track, Columbus. A pretty waltz-ballad, at times Columbus's synths made me recall Klaparen from Kent's last album. Sömnen, the following track, is to me more of an interlude, a chance to catch your breath, than a fully fledged song. It also sets the scene for Vy Från Ett Luftslott, a song which shifts the direction of the album further. I would have to say it has a very unique sound to it. Beginning with organ chords that then turn into swirling riffs, Vy Från Ett Luftslott creates a light and airy feeling to suit the title and lyrical theme. The song really grows on you.

Våga Vara Rädd, the next song, then moves away from the techno idea altogether, resembling something more from the Beatles than Depeche Mode. After my first few listens I found myself humming the catchy trumpet tune the rest of the day. Våga Vara Rädd reminded me more of Kent's traditional Hagnesta Hill songs such as Stop Me June.

The second last song Generation Ex would rank in Tillbaka Till Samtiden's top three songs. Here Joakim sings a duet with Camela Leierth. I've always enjoyed Kent's duets with female singers in the past, such as FF and Duett, and Generation Ex is no exception. The female voice gives the song light and Generation Ex features one of the best choruses on the album. The lyrics are also perhaps Tillbaka Till Samtiden's best.

The eleventh and last track is truly something great. The song is called Ensammast I Sverige (Loneliest in Sweden) and is easily the best song on the album, and up there amongst Kent's best ever work. An epic ballad, Ensammast I Sverige finishes off the album in the grand tradition of 747 and Mannen I Den Vita Hatten. Starting with an eerie electronic sounding riff, the song has a space-age sound that feels as if it's been produced by Vangelis. In fact, if it wasn't for the vocals it would seem to fit right at home on the Blade Runner soundtrack. The drum beat which booms throughout the entire song contrasts with Joakim Berg's gentle vocals which sing one of Kent's best melodies.

So on the whole how does Tillbaka Till Samtiden compare to other Kent albums? I would rate it somewhere towards the top ranks. Vapen Och Ammunition remains my personal favourite Kent album and to be honest Tillbaka Till Samtiden is probably not quite as good as Du Och Jag Döden. However it's still far from being a disappointment. For Kent it's necessary to keep progressing their style rather than just doing the same old thing. Given their love for Depeche Mode it was inevitable that they would make an electronic album sooner or later. Here they've done a great job of changing their sound without losing any of their great songwriting in the transition. In conclusion Tillbaka Till Samtiden is pretty damn brilliant. Or in other words: it's Kent.

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