Good Karma or Corina thinks out loud…
Our dear long term reader and occasional writer Corina has made up her mind about the new album. Here’s what she thinks. If you too feel like you want to send your personal review to us, go ahead!
Good Karma – Fan review
Two years spent working hard in the studio for the band and waiting patiently for the fans, then we all got some good karma. The result? A superb album which blew most of our minds. The key to properly listen to this album in my opinion is to go about it with a very open mind and just let it sweep you away. Put your Joyride or Crash! Boom! Bang! expectations aside, cos this band is “still leanin’ on the record machine” and if you “give [them] a coin [… they] will kick off your dream in 2016”, as they state it outright in one of the songs on this brand new album! As Per explained in his latest lengthy and very in-depth exclusive interview with TDR, the idea was to make a proper studio album, very much in contrast with their greatest hits live shows. That’s a smart move towards creativity and self-(re)discovery, especially after 30 years of career and when working within the current restrictions of the band. And indeed, I agree that the hard part for us fans was to let go of the rockier sound of the past 7 years, most of them spent in touring mode around the world. Now it’s time to keep up with the band as they head in another direction. So let’s take it step by step:
#1 Why dontcha?
Perfect album opener! It really grabs your attention in those critical first seconds in which you still have the time to press the Stop button on the whole album. Not a chance with this one! It’s like getting in the car with Per on his way to pick up Marie for yet another joyride, fooling around with the vocals, his fingers drumming on the steering wheel and speeding up on the Swedish roads. My first thought was Opportunity Nox, but this one is softer. And although I do like the playful sax and handclapping part, it feels a bit too ‘70s and out of place compared to the rest of the album. Perhaps some cool guitar riffs instead to go with the haunting beat and bass line would have worked better, but I’m not the expert here.
#2 It Just Happens
The first single was quite a big surprise and my ear needed some time to adjust to all the electronica. At the same time there’s something in it that I think I’ve heard before, perhaps on Have A Nice Day? Luckily the piano keeps us from getting completely lost into EDM territory. Powerful vocals that gave me goosebumps from the first second I heard Marie. How can she sing like that? And I love it when they sing the verses together, such a treat! Quite easy to see why it was chosen as the 1st single: modern sound, outstanding vocals from Marie and a positive message complemented by such a heart-warming video.
#3 Good Karma
Wow, there’s so much going on in this song! Where to start? EDM meets rock? You’ve got it! It’s like the band was on a mission to give the fans what they all wanted, which is pretty hard to do, if not impossible, knowing what colourful bunch of Roxers we are. I have no idea how they did it but it’s totally working! And Marie is roxing as hard as only she can do. Man, there’s still so much fire left in that woman! This is what the whole album is about, so it should definitely be a single with a proper video! Pretty please?
#4 This One
This one’s fast! It starts a bit hesitantly, but it picks up steam very quickly, pressing the EDM pedal to the metal. Love Per’s distorted vocals and how Marie turns the chorus around with her stunning voice! Careful with the road signs and speed limits while driving in real life though, cos it seems so easy to get caught up in a chasing game on the highway while blasting this one in your car!
#5 You Make It Sound So Simple
What an intro! In the beginning you don’t really know what to expect, piano or synth, but the electronica wins eventually and the song just explodes. Love, love, love the vocals! Per belting out the verses and Marie sweetly harmonizing during the chorus! So different and yet so beautiful together! Smart lyrics, too! Everything that’s wrong with the world nowadays in just 3 minutes and 42 seconds. And yes, love is the only simple solution.
#6 From a Distance
The flying song! Flawless! This one just rolls out of your speakers as the most natural thing ever. It makes me think of Entering Your Heart, which I love to bits, but now instead of swimming with the dolphins we get to fly with the birds. So airy and heavenly! Marie sings like an angel and you simply can’t resist the urge to sing along with her. Another one of those great combinations of utterly sad lyrics and uplifting music, which have become a trademark for Per. The only thing I would do to this song is make it at least 1 hour long cos I can’t seem to get enough of it, but the loop button will do for now. Oh and I can definitely see a video with M&P singing/playing (flying?) in a wonderful natural setting (think Milk and Toast and Honey) and some lovely footage filmed with a drone all over the Swedish landscape, mountains, hills, plains, water and charming little islands… Will that ever happen?
#7 Some Other Summer
Probably the most mainstream song on this album, if Rox can ever be called that. Incredible how well Per’s voice works with this modern sound! Very carefree and danceable, like you’re at a party on a yacht out in the sea. And despite the consensus among the Roxers that Good Karma would make a better 2nd single, the summer reference and the sunshine in this song make it the perfect current single for this year’s unusual tropical summer in Sweden.
#8 Why Don’t You Bring Me Flowers?
The big ballad! Wonderful production with lots of strings! The lyrics are probably the saddest on this album and Marie delivers them with so much sensibility! It almost feels like the song itself becomes that soft sweater from the verses meant to keep us warm in the cold, cold rain. Lovely harmonies interwoven with those fluffy strings!
#9 You Can’t Do This To Me Anymore
The Pet Shop Boys having a go at The Look? Nah, it’s Rox sweeping us off our feet once again! Another great intro and I love that constant build up in the music and voices! Makes you feel like you’re flying higher and higher. Cool vocals from Per during the verses which make more sense than those of The Look, but have the same effect of cheeky playfulness in that special way they are sung. The chorus is maybe a bit too simple and repetitive, but the excellent harmonies from Marie somehow manage to fill in that gap.
#10 20 BPM
My personal favourite! A perfect mix of rock and dance with Per in top form on lead vocals. With that drumroll intro and the powerful beat rolling in your head Per almost sounds like a roaring lion entering a circus arena and dangerously toying with the audience. All those crazy voice effects and screams can mean only one thing: P&C&C having a ridiculous amount of fun in the studio. I really hope that nobody forgot to press the recording button on Per’s phone camera when they were working on this! And is that a touch of Depeche Mode that I hear towards the end where the song seeminlgy stops for a moment? Probably the record company will not bet on this one as a single, but we can keep it as a hidden gem in our hard-core fan treasure chest of underrated Rox songs of which I fear there are way too many now. My only hope, since there is not so much Marie in this song, is for Per and the band to give it a try live someday. It would sound fabulous!
#11 April Clouds
Another beautiful ballad! It starts very raw, just with Marie and the piano, and it gradually turns into what reminds me of a majestic jazzy-symphonic live performance at Night of the Proms. Very complex and gorgeous on its own, but again, I sense that it’s a bit different from the rest of the songs, more classic Rox than EDM with a twist which forms the core of this album. Still, Marie gets to close yet another album in her unique way, not before wishing us the best. Right back at you, lovely lady!
Overall I think that this album shows just how much Rox is still a force to be reckoned with. After 30 years in the business they can still surprise us with how versatile and special they can be, keeping up with the current changes in music, while at the same time not letting us forget for a moment their massive success in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Clever productions spiced with surprising titbits everywhere, quite simple, yet effective, honest and heartfelt lyrics and some of the best vocals that we’ve heard in years from both Marie and Per. As much as I would have loved a full blown rock album from them, Good Karma feels like an unexpected breath of fresh air that I didn’t know I needed. And although I find it very hard to explain, somehow this seems like a new beginning. Kudos to the whole Rox team and fingers crossed here for that pesky leg to improve and Marie to feel better! Who knows, maybe it will just happen for them to surprise us again, “soon”…