Last AmAndA, Last AmAndA

Last AmAndA, Last AmAndA

I can’t believe I don’t hate this. No, seriously; I’m a little disturbed about it. I first listened to transplanted Swedish (they now live in California, apparently) quintet Last AmAndA’s self-titled debut reluctantly, thinking for sure that I’d pan this quick and move on — I mean, come on, they’re doing that sMaLL-bIG capitalization thing, which is almost always a signal of impending crappiness. And yet, well, here I am, still listening to Andreas Magnusson and Magnus Sandberg rock their echoey guitars, Peter Limber and Nicholas Oja rumble along beneath, and MÃ¥rten Larsson roar defiantly about, um…okay, I’ll admit it, I have no freakin’ clue what he’s singing about. Don’t get me wrong — Larsson’s lyrics are all in English, but they’re all extremely vague and personal, to the point that they’re utterly nondescript and meaningless to anyone but (I’m guessing) Larsson and maybe his bandmates.

So what’s the deal, here? Why am I not only still listening to this, but, God help me, actually liking it? Setting aside any smart-assed remarks about my obvious lack of musical taste, the only explanation that makes sense is just that the songs are so freakin’ catchy. Tracks like “Can’t Stand Myself,” “Stay,” and “I Will,” while mining a vein of mid-’90s pop-rock (think Bush, married with the emotion of Live and a little bit of U2’s style), are at their core just pop songs, and addictively well-written ones, too. Forget the lyrics; it’s the melodies, the song structures, the shiny, crunchy guitars that drag you along. The closest parallel I can come up with is the significantly-cheesier ’80s band The Outfield (yes, the “Your Love” band) — back in high school, I became terrifying addicted to their debut disc, despite the utter insipidity of the lyrics and subject matter, and why? Well, because for all their flaws, those two Outfield guys were freakishly good pop songwriters.

Same goes for Last AmAndA. Following in the footsteps of their countrymen/-women in ABBA, Larsson, Magnusson, and the rest have seemingly been assiduously studying the dynamics of pop long enough to know exactly what to do and when to do it — to the point that I can almost predict, song-by-song, where they’re headed. Oddly, that predictability isn’t a liability here, but rather creates a warm familiarity, placing them right where they want to be in that grand continuum of rock bands throughout history.

For me, at least, this album’s like candy: I probably won’t remember a bit of it by this evening, it’s true, but for right now, anyway, it’s fun to take it all in and foot-drum along. Take that for what it’s worth.

(self-released; Last AmAndA/F.E.A. Records --
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Saturday, October 1st, 2005. Filed under Reviews.

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