Red Sleeping Beauty - Stockholm

matcd084  /  April 2019
Red Sleeping Beauty - Stockholm
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Red Sleeping Beauty - Stockholm

matcd084  /  April 2019

Long awaited fourth album from Swedish legends Red Sleeping Beauty! The trio of Niklas Angergård, Kristina Borg, and Mikael Matsson formed in the early 1990s and released a series of pop gems on the finest labels of the day including Marsh Marigold, Motorway, Sunday and Siesta.

After a 15-year disappearance, they returned in 2016 with new releases including the excellent album ‘Kristina’ on Shelflife and Labrador. The band contributed a smash hit to the ‘Matinée World Cup’ EP last year and this album marks their official first full release for Matinée.

The euphoric ‘We Are Magic’ is both the first song recorded for the album and the first song Kristina sang after defeating cancer. With swirling synthesizers and crystalline vocals, it marks an especially impressive return for the band and is the perfect opening track for the album.

With an intro that should appeal to vintage O.M.D. enthusiasts, ‘Always On Your Side’ is an indie gem featuring Niklas on lead vocals, while ‘Tonight’ is an ode to the hopes and possibilities of youthful summer nights and a hit single just waiting to happen.

‘New York City Girls’ channels early Pet Shop Boys and Kraftwerk and is surely the coolest song recorded by the band to date, and ‘A Perfect Facade’ is a sad song detailing life in a small seaside town and featuring the angelic backing vocals of Rose Suau of Shoestrings / Djustin / Invisible Twins fame.

Side two of the album opens with ‘Top Love’—a duet about everyday life and a modern synth classic complete with shameless Yazoo outro, and is followed by ‘Tell Me Lies’ featuring pop guitars, a heavenly chorus, and lyrics about having really high thoughts about yourself.

Having stolen their name from a great McCarthy single, it was only a matter of time before the band covered ‘Red Sleeping Beauty’ and now, nearly 30 years after their first recordings, their haunting version slots perfectly into the new album.

Future dancefloor filler ‘The Swedish Winter’ is the band’s most Saint Etienne moment so far—a song about the long, depressing Swedish winter and the short (one day or so), not-so-depressing Swedish summer, while album closer ‘Don’t Cry for Me, California’ begins as a power ballad but morphs into another club hit, complete with 80s Pet Shop Boys orchestral flourishes.

Mixed and mastered by sound genius Tomas Bodén (co-producer of the latest album from fellow Swedes The Radio Dept.), ‘Stockholm’ is by far the strongest set of Red Sleeping Beauty songs to date with the right amount of edge and spark to allow them to reach their true potential. The album is a modern classic and an absolutely magnificent addition to the Matinée discography.

  1. We Are Magic
  2. Always On Your Side
  3. Tonight
  4. New York City Girls
  5. A Perfect Facade
  6. Top Love
  7. Tell Me Lies
  8. Red Sleeping Beauty
  9. The Swedish Winter
  10. Don't Cry For Me, California


Swedish dance masters approach their 30th anniversary with a fourth album that doesn’t so much wear their ‘80s influences on their sleeves as have them tattooed there permanently! This is also the first full album since singer Kristina Borg recovered from a cancer scare that led to limited involvement in their brilliant previous effort, Kristina, obviously dedicated to her and her recovery. Now that the trio (Borg, Niklas Angergård, and Mikael Matsson) is back in full force (and health) this may be their best album yet. It’s certainly one of the best we’ve heard in 2019. The synth-heavy album ticks all the right boxes (particularly if you are a student of 80s synth pop), with opener ‘We Are Magic’ (an infectious, Kraftwerk-styled dancefloor f/killer with hints of Cher’s ‘Do You Believe’ throughout the chorus scoring bonus points) serving as a statement of purpose and a resilient theme throughout the ten tracks. ‘Always On Your Side’ will have you racing for your OMD albums to spot the immediate influence (with ‘Top Love’ an easier and more obvious spot-the-influence challenge for Yazoo completists) while Borg’s gorgeous, sexy breathy vocals makes the heart pump just a little faster throughout ‘Tonight’. ‘New York City Girls’ was made for Studio 54 frivolity and sports a bitchin’ robotic vocal nod to Kraftwerk’s ‘Trans-Europe Express’.‘Tell Me Lies’ is pure bliss in the style of The Yearning, complete with unforgettable 60s-styled harmonies, and the eponymous band track ‘Red Sleeping Beauty’ may make you forget McCarthy’s original source track, even if Laetitia Sadier had arrived in time to lend her vocal talents! The fun continues with the St. Etienne-inspired floor-filler ‘The Swedish Winter’, and wraps as the spirit of the Pet Shop Boys has a pop in for finale ‘Don’t Cry For Me, California’. So if OMD, Pet Shop Boys, Visage, Yaz[oo], St Etienne, are on your dance card, drop everything and pick this up immediately. Your dancing shoes, spandex slacks, and puffy shirts will be glad you did! 10/10   --Soundblab
Sweden is arguably best known for its exceptional musical reputation (*cough* ABBA *cough) and it seems like Red Sleeping Beauty, with their already long history are adding to that reputation. Named after the ‘80’s Marxist band McCarthy, Red Sleeping Beauty has returned with Stockholm, their 4th album in 30 years, an album that shies away from their previous go-to’s of vintage synth and old drum machines. Subliminal catchiness is the aim of the game on “New York City Girls”. A live city track introduces this heavy electro song, placing you firmly in the middle of the city that never sleeps. An electro oboe pulls you in while the track turns into full ‘80’s electro nostalgia. The sweet, somewhat innocent vocals are Pet Shop Boys-esque, serving as a distraction from the predictable synth line. While not as catchy as the other tracks on the album, it is subtlety infectious, the kind of song that plays in the background and without noticing, you’re singing it to yourself in the car. And if we’ve learned nothing from Swedish music is that catchiness is important, by any means necessary. Subtle catchiness is non-existent on the title track, “We are Magic”. Armed with dance-pop beats and with one of the catchiest choruses I have heard in a while, it is an all but certain club hit. It is an O.M.D. infused dance track that sounds like it comes straight from one of Stockholm’s underground clubs. Along with its catchy chorus and polished electro synth and bass, this is definitely a track that will be heard in clubs for some time. Released pre-album last year, “Always on Your Side” is another banger. It follows on from “We are Magic” with another catchy chorus and a bridge that will stay in your head for days. The vocals on the track are peppy, to say the least, while the synth is used to ground the track in pure indie-pop. What strikes me about this track is its youthful quality. Each element can be identified to have been belonging to some part of musical history but the vocals are so wholesomely indie, it creates a whole new experience. The hidden gem of the album is “Tell Me Lies”. On first listen, the intro is fairly generic but the vocals that kick in making the track sound like a musical number covered by an indie-dance band, like an electro-Les Miserablés. It then pops straight into a very 80’s piano synth staccato, creating a chorus that Robin Sparkles would be jealous of. The chorus is seeping in ‘80’s pop and has made me smile on every listen. Listening to this track is a journey with no known destination but the journey is thoroughly enjoyable. Most bands formed in the ’80s, who still make music today have shied away from the 80’s sounds but Red Sleeping Beauty’s ‘80’s heart is firmly on their sleeve. This album is a futuristic journey through a time that once seemed so far away and do you know what? It works. Stockholm successfully balances nostalgia with refined pop to create an album that belongs firmly in the ‘10’s.   --Surviving The Golden Age
Stockholm, the fourth long-player from Swedish indie pop combo Red Sleeping Beauty, mirrors in form and tone the sleek but winsome synth-driven approach of its predecessor, 2016's Kristina. That album marked a welcome return for a group which had first endeared itself to the international indie pop community in the 1990s with a series of jangly, warm-hearted releases for boutique labels like Motorway, Siesta, and Marshmarigold. After a 15-year disappearance, original members Niklas Angergård, Kristina Borg, and Mikael Matsson reunited as a trio -- without founding bassist Carl Johan Näsström -- and launched their second phase as a largely guitar-less synth pop act. That Red Sleeping Beauty were able to re-form at all is in itself a feat, given Borg's battle with cancer, which coincided with her participation in the album that bears her name in tribute. Having recovered successfully, Stockholm serves to cement her own comeback as well as the band's and feels ultimately more cohesive and collaborative. Echoes of melodic synth pop forebears like Yazoo, O.M.D., and Pet Shop Boys are clearly heard throughout Stockholm's ten cuts with lead vocals split pretty evenly between Borg and Angergård, including some nice boy-girl interplay that harkens back to their classic sound. Combining the cool electro-pulse of latter-day Scandipop with the inherent earnestness of indie pop, the trio come up with a handful of standouts here including opener "We Are Magic" and their own theme song "Red Sleeping Beauty." Overall, it's a solid effort with an amiable tone and some veteran pop craft.   --All Music Guide
In our opinion April is turning out to be a good music month, and one only need to consider Stockholm to know that we are correct. No, not the city, although a friend that visited last year raved about its charms. We are referring to the new album by Sweden's Red Sleeping Beauty. Continuing their return from a long hiatus, the band proves themselves synth pop creators of the highest level, perfectly balancing pop euphoria, swirling moodiness, and club hits. For some of us, the right kind of music floods the brain with pleasure, perhaps the best natural drug on can achieve standing up. This is an album that delivers that feeling in large, glorious doses. Red Sleeping Beauty are Niklas Angergård, Kristina Borg, and Mikael Matsson. Stockholm is out now in digital and CD formats via Matinee Recordings.   --When You Motor Away
As I mentioned in my intro to the Red Sleeping Beauty interview that I ran a few days ago, R.S.B. are one of the few bands that have returned after a long absence to come back even better than they were before. At least I think so. They returned with the full-length Kristina (Shelflife Records) in 2016 with the “Always” single the year before, in very fine form. Currently a three piece of Niklas Angergard, Kristina Borg and Mikael Matsson, the band deliver a truly beautiful work here on Stockholm. To be clear, there’s very little guitar on this record, instead using analog synths and a trusty drum machine (and those near-perfect vocals). Opening cut “We Are Magic” delivers right from the start as does the next cut, “Always On Your Side,” one of the best pop songs of the year. Elsewhere “New York City Girls” captures the essence of the Big Apple, albeit in a darker mood while they finally cover their namesake with a sizzling cover of the McCarthy song “Red Sleeping Beauty” to wonderful effect. Also don’t miss the dreamy pop song “Tonight” with Niklas and Kristina trading off vocals Is there some nostalgia in the sound of Stockholm? Of course there is, for those of us who treasure records by the likes of OMD, early Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys, but this band is able to balance that with excellent songwriting. You’ve got to have the songs and Stockholm definitely does.   --Dagger Zine
Formé au début des années 90 et revenu en 2016 avec l’album Kristina qui mettait fin à 15 ans absence, le trio suédois Red Sleeping Beauty sera de retour le 12 avril chez Matinée Recordings avec un quatrième long format intitulé Stockholm. Mixé et masterisé par Tomas Bodén (co-producteur du dernier album en date de The Radio Dept.), Stockholm voit le trio composé de Niklas Angergård, Kristina Borg et Mikael Matsson poursuivre dans une veine synth-pop influencée par OMD ou les Pet Shop Boys déjà empruntée sur leur excellent EP Always On Your Side, sorti en 2018.   --Fanfare
La premiata ditta pop dei Red Sleeping Beauty, guidata dal talento di Niklas Angergård, ci offre un nuovo spaccato della sua bravura con il delizioso nuovo album “Stockholm”, che fin dal titolo sembra essere una dichiarazione d’amore alla loro città d’origine. Ovviamente il piacere più grande ci arriva dal notare che, mescolata a questo delizioso synth-pop, spesso compare la voce di Kristina Borg, che ha pienamente recuperato dalla malattia che l’aveva colpita proprio durante la lavorazione del lavoro precedente. Forse proprio il fatto di non avere pensieri e preoccupazioni ha aiutato la band a costrure perfette pop song (“We Are Magic è praticamente da manuale!) che trovano sempre e con estrema disinvoltura il ritornello perfetto per entrarci in testa. Tanto euforico, ballabile e accattivante (“The Swedish Winter” diventerà un classico nel vostro dancefloor casalingo), quanto capace anche di essere più riflessivo e oscuro (“New York City Girls”) così come malinconico (“A Perfect Facade”) o zuccheroso (“Top Love”), il sound dei nostri alfieri nordici va a pescare da eroi come Pet Shop Boys e Saint Etienne per creare qualcosa che ha già il taglio del classico, fin dal primo ascolto. Se ancora ricordate i RSB per le loro magie guitar-pop, beh, sappiate che qui siamo su territori ben diversi, ma il gusto melodico è tutt’altro che scomparso. Se ancora tutto questo non vi ha convinto, beh, ricordatevi che esce per Matinée Recordings, sinonimo di grande qualità. Dovreste essere a posto adesso.   --Indie for Bunnies
Sono passati tre anni da "Kristina", album con il quale gli svedesi Red Sleeping Beauty hanno infranto un silenzio quasi ventennale messo in atto dopo la pubblicazione del loro secondo progetto "Soundtrack", pubblicato dalla gloriosa etichetta spagnola Siesta. Una pausa che è stata resa necessaria dalla dura battaglia della cantante Kristina Borg contro il cancro. Perso per strada il bassista Carl Johan Näsström e con i due chitarristi Niklas Angergård e Mikael Matsson contagiati dalla passione per i sintetizzatori e altre diavolerie elettroniche, i Red Sleeping Beauty ritornano in scena con maggior consapevolezza e grinta. "Stockholm" si svincola non solo dalle sonorità indie-pop degli esordi, ma anche dalla natura celebrativa del precedente album, mettendo in mostra un muscoloso synth-pop che, alla maniera degli Omd, gioca con il versante pop dei Kraftwerk ("We Are Magic"). Il nuovo disco dei Red Sleeping Beauty è un inatteso campionario di perfetto synth-pop, un album ricco di melodie accattivanti ("Always On Your Side") e piacevoli residui del passato di guitar-band ("Red Sleeping Beauty"). Gli svedesi si muovono con disinvoltura sullo stesso territorio stilistico dei Pet Shop Boys ("Tonight"), degli Yazoo ("Top Love") e dei Saint Etienne ("The Swedish Winter", "A Perfect Facade"), per poi riafferrare le sonorità robotiche dei Kraftwerk nella splendida rilettura virtuale di "Trans Europe Express" che anima l'irresistibile "New York City Girls". Con il quarto album, la band svedese consolida dunque il cambio di stile di Niklas Angergård, Mikael Matsson e Kristina Borg. Dieci canzoni che hanno le caratteristiche di altrettanti potenziali hit single, tra i quali svetta l’eccellente "Don't Cry For Me, California", un brano che Dylan Mondegreen ha prontamente inserito nel proprio repertorio ("Ikkje Gråt For Me, California") suggellando così la rinascita di una delle migliori pop band in circolazione. —Ondarock
Estaba totalmente convencido de que había puesto por aquí “Kristina”, el regreso de Red Sleeping Beauty, ya que escuché esa curiosa ‘Mi Amor’ una buena cantidad de veces en 2016, pero no. Bueno, no pasa nada, porque tienen nuevo trabajo, y este no se me escapa. Y es que, esta banda sueca, que empezó a principio de los noventa y lo dejó en el 2000, se convirtió en todo un grupo de culto entre los seguidores del indie-pop. Su perdida fue triste, pero nos trajo otras grandes bandas, ya que algunos de sus miembros formaron Acid House Kings y Shermans. Pero ahora hay que fijarse otra vez en ellos, porque, desde su reunión, no han parado de sacar singles, Eps, y álbumes. “Stockholm” es otra muestra de lo podríamos llamar “pop electrónico sueco”. Diez canciones que recuerdan a Pet Shop Boys, OMD o The Human League, donde las melodías luminosas de teclado y los estribillos pegadizos están a la orden del día. Y es que, no hay nada que se les dé mejor a los suecos que hacer una buena canción de pop. Ahí tenemos ‘We Are Magic’, el tema que abre el álbum, y todo un himno synth-pop de lo más animado. Una animación que también aparece en cortes como ‘Top Love’, que es una auténtica delicia con un estribillo irresistible. Además de un teclado que parece sacado de una canción de Yazoo. Y también tenemos ‘The Swedish Winter’, que es una de esas odas que hacen los suecos al verano. Su faceta más minimalista, y menos efusiva, también nos deja cortes sobresalientes. Es el caso la melancólica ‘Always on Your Side’, que no puede ser más ochentera, o de la preciosa y minimalista ‘New York City Girls’. Y ojo, porque, tras más de 25 años de carrera, han decidido hacer una versión del tema de McCarthy con el que bautizaron la banda. El cambio es de lo más interesante, porque del muro de guitarras con el que cuenta la versión original, pasamos a una delicada canción apoyado en unos teclados épicos y la voz susurrante de Kristina Borg. Pero todavía hay más, porque acaban el disco con ‘Don’t Cry For Me, California’, en la que no pierden la oportunidad de hacer otro estupendo himno de synth-pop. Suecos haciendo pop electrónico: no hace falta decir más.   --Don't Eat The Yellow Snow
Red Sleeping Beauty es un trío de suecos formado por Niklas Angergård, Kristina Borg y Mikael Matsson. Llevan en esto desde inicios de los noventa. pero pronto lo dejaron. Tras 15 años de desaparición, regresaron en 2016 con nuevos lanzamientos como el álbum Kristina, el EP Matinée World Cup. Los tenemos de vuelta con el álbum Stockholm, que destina ese sonido pop nórdico tan característico. Con sintetizadores y guiños a OMD o a los Pet Shop Boys, es obligado el recuerdo de aquellos luminosos, y también algo horteras, años ochenta. Mezclado y masterizado por Tomas Bodén (co-productor del último álbum de los suecos The Radio Dept.), el disco de Red Sleeping Beauty es un clásico moderno y una conexión con el pop del norte de Europa.   --Escafandrista Musical
När Red Sleeping Beauty släppte sitt förra album Kristina hade det gått en smärre evighet, närmare 15 år, sedan deras förra release och albumet. Den här gången behövde vi bara vänta ungefär två och ett halvt år mellan albumsläppen. Stockholm inleds med synthpoppärlan "We Are Magic" med Kristina Borg på sång. Red Sleeping Beauty tvekar inte mellan att byta mellan manlig och kvinnlig sångare för att hitta den röst som passar en låt bäst och ibland så är det Kristina Borgs och Niklas Angergårds röster som får komplettera varandra. På skivans andra spår "Always On Your Side" greppar dock Niklas Angergård mikrofonen på egen hand. "New York City Girls" har inspiration från bland andra Kraftwerk och Pet Shop Boys vilket leder till ett utmärkt slutresultat. Red Sleeping Beauty lånar även in Rose Suau som körsångerska på låten "A Perfect Facade". Rose har tidigare jobbat med Niklas bror Johan i projektet Djustin så de är inte helt främmande för varandra. Stockholm är överhuvudtaget en logisk fortsättning på förra albumet Kristina och även om den kanske inte knockar mig med samma kraft som Kristina så är det en perfekt uppföljare som når sitt absoluta klimax med Yazoo-doftande "Top Love". Sammanfattningsvis kan man dra slutsatsen att Red Sleeping Beauty lyckats igen. Bra låtar, utmärkt sång, bra produktion och en skiva som andas vår. Kristina var ett av mina soundtrack till sommaren 2016 och Stockholm kommer definitivt att vara en skiva som kommer att skina ikapp med vårsolen.