ALBUM VIRGIN, EMI RELEASE: FEBRUARY
26, 2004 REVIEW: MARCH 5, 2004
too bad wonderful dark pop song "Stairs" is the first track
on "Presence". The expectations for the fourth record by this
very talented Swedish group, with a knack for emotionally charged tearjerkers,
rise to unhealthy levels right away. And the rest of the album just can’t
live up to them.
Willows with gifted crooner Magnus Carlsson in the lead wear their influences,
not on their sleeves - like their hearts, but everywhere about their black-clad
bodies. Among the badges for various bands from the 60:s thru the 80:s
two are much larger; one which states "Depeche Mode" and one,
even bigger, that trumpets out "The Smiths/Morrissey". And I'm
fine with that. Good influences all. But they shine through on almost
every song – like the good but DM sounding "Lost Love"
and the Smiths-esque "Heart of Hearts", amongst others. Of course,
the strong Moz-impression Carlsson does, doesn’t lessen the likeness.
Willows are very talented. When they make an album that sounds truly original,
I will be first in line to declare them the real kings of Swedish pop.
Until then, I listen to the gimlets of gold I can dig up if I pick the
best songs from each of their four albums (by the way, "Into the
Light" where the electronic influences shone through more is actually
better than "Presence", in my book at least). And "Stairs"
is, of course, among these songs.