Sambassadeur: Migration

Text Adventure: I Believe in Lassies

One of those totally captivating releases that seemingly appears out of nowhere, Migration by Sambassadeur sparkles with glorious sunlit melodies. Though the Gothenburg, Sweden-based pop outfit (Anna Persson, Daniel Permbo, Joachim Läckberg, Daniel Tolergård) sounds nothing like Abba, Sambassadeur (the name taken from Serge Gainsbourg's song “Les Sambassadeurs”) shares with its adored kin a talent for composing one pop gem after another. Strings, mandolins, and breathy vocals come together in the gorgeous opener “The Park,” after which a ravishing vocal melody, bolstered by orchestral strings, baritone sax, and timpani, glides over charging disco rhythms in “Subtle Changes.” “Falling in Love” changes things up by migrating into melancholy ballad territory of a classic ‘60s-styled vintage. Occasionally wistful (“Migration,” “Someday We're Through”) but more often than not breezy (“Something to Keep”), Migration serves up nine blissful pop songs in a concise thirty-five minute package. After all is said and done, resisting the hooks in glorious pop tunes like “That Town” and “Something to Keep” is not only foolish but futile. What more could you ask for?

I Believe in Lassies is an unpretentious yet endearing collection of folk tunes from Text Adventure (David Roy and Stephen Scott) that gets a considerable boost from the angelic lilt of Scott's singing. In addition, the group's sophomore effort is unashamedly lo-fi (“recorded at home … using two microphones to dusty hardware”) but doesn't suffer as a result. There's a purity and directness to the music that calls to mind Nick Drake, and an occasionally wistful quality pervades some songs while an upbeat spirit animates others (“Cowboy Shadows” and the galloping title song feature the album's breeziest melodies). In “Saturday Morning Cartoons,” multi-tracked flutes quietly jockey for position after which Scott's high-pitched voice executes an acrobatic melody. The pretty melodies that grace “I Might Be Silly” are first performed by acoustic guitar and glockenspiel, with Scott joining in soon after. “Boobook (For R)” opens with a spirited three-minute episode of acoustic guitar picking that gently explodes with a few Pat Metheny flourishes before the entrancing vocals and harmonies kick in. Jaunty electric guitar playing in “Nothing is Wrong” frames a folktronic section that recalls Greg Davis's Arbor in style and spirit, and the outdoorsy evocation “Sunset in the Silver Forest” could also pass for an outtake from that same album. The album isn't entirely free of electronics—squeals of tiny organisms burble in the background of “Saturday Morning Cartoons” and vocals in the second half of “I Might Be Silly” are shadowed by distortion—but the songs hardly need such embellishments. If anything, an unadorned presentation allows the core elements—strongly melodic songwriting realized with little more than acoustic guitar and vocals—to shine all the more brightly.

February 2008