Music Reviews
Music Sounds Better With You

Acid House Kings Music Sounds Better With You

(Labrador) Buy it from Insound Rating - 6/10

Throughout their entire career, Acid House Kings have remained impervious to any form of harsh criticism. Perhaps the affable Swedes transport their listeners to a place that’s safe and warm, protected from all the displeasures life has to offer. There’s something to be said about artists who can express a mixture of resentful thoughts in the sprightliest ways. You start to believe there isn’t any point in following the words if the songs themselves are so gosh-darn adorable. Really, who wouldn’t want to imagine belonging in a joyous rendezvous (organized, of course) in which everyone says I love you in foreign languages, actually likes the idea of discussing Proust, and looks forward to the idea of concluding the festivities with some obscure French-pop karaoke.

Well, consider yourself fooled, because that’s precisely what the Acid House Kings cleverly avoided for the past two decades. Behind the twee boy-girl harmonies and earnest melodies lay some of the most perceptive, not to mention undervalued, pieces of pop paraphernalia. From listing the days of the week before Rebecca Black made it well-known to hopelessly wanting your affection, now they want to cuddle with you. And frankly, it’s a little bit creepy. While they incited the likes of Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura to follow into their footsteps, it's pretty evident that their former alumni grew up into accomplished scholars, graduated college with top honors, and now enjoy a plentiful, worry-free life filled with rich pleasantries and boastful intellectualism. Acid House Kings sound defeated, like the teacher who stuck to teaching junior high because he/she was too afraid to confront any negative response.

Music Sounds Better With You abandons many of their previous acoustic incantations. Instead, their contagious merriment has altered from sugar high to powder high, imbuing a restless jitter that, once it sinks in, becomes utterly synthetic. Their reactive behavior is borne from frustration, facilitating a derivative compositional motif that’s prone to garner attention, earning them a long-awaited place in the indie stratosphere. From the outlandish theatrics in Are We Lovers Or Are We Friends? to the keyboard tapping, acoustic-driven Would you Stop?, Acid House Kings are taking their saccharine schmaltz to an almost embarrassing form of indie-pop pastiche. Band leader Johan Angergård’s songwriting can be charmingly cost-effective at times: take Under Water, a forthright nod to Another Sunny Day that shows them at their most spontaneous, and Where Have We Been? bracingly relinquishes the clear-cut mid-tempo to instill some Spanish tremolo into a psych-pop arrangement that could be misapprehended for Alone Again Or. It doesn’t help that they push the use castanets in each and every song – you’d think a healthy dose of handclaps, glockenspiel, and jangle strum would, to answer their statement, make this music sound better.

Going back to the question I proposed, evaluators always fail to judge their tangy twee pop, slipping a narrow critique of a genre that is clearly untenable. Acid House Kings’ radiating energy makes these plaintive melodies far from middling, but they also self-congratulate themselves with more naïve depictions, more clichéd lyrics  (take away the trouble, take away the pain), and even more juvenile underpinnings. So what makes Music Sounds Better With You  so appealing: is it because it makes one feel happy and unpreoccupied? That’s just downright cultish, if you ask me. Acid House Kings had hit their stride before; now, they paste a few calculated smiles that don’t transcend or go any place special. These delicate people really know how to solidify a pretty picture, especially when they offset their lovin’ spoonful of virtue with some muffled resonance. This time around, the Kings are downright cheating instead of tirelessly studying to make the grade. And every teacher knows an underachiever never gets higher than a C+.