Nu! – the review
The Daily Roxette has a habit of reviewing albums round table-style, so let’s get to it! Colin was supposed to be in on it, but is busy with his newborn daughter Fenja, so he’s excused.
Thomas: Marie Fredriksson is back. Nu! is her first solo album in Swedish with newly written material in 17 years. She has written one track on the album, “Sista sommarens vals” (“Last Summer’s Waltz”) and she has gotten a track from Per (Gessle) – “Känn dig som hemma” (“Make Yourself at Home”.) The rest of the album has been written by husband Micke Bolyos and text writers for hire. Nu! is produced by Micke together with Christoffer Lundquist.
So how is it? Marie’s voice is great, better than ever in fact. However I feel the songs are so-so and there’s no discernible red line. I would best describe this as the follow-up to 1987’s …efter stormen, but without Marie’s lyrics or the nice Lindbom/Fredriksson melodies. What do you say guys?
Paul: The fans have waited all these years for an album from Marie with brand new Swedish material. Will they be disappointed with Nu!? Let’s find out…
Thomas: I think Marie’s fans will love this.
Kai: I have to admit that I could not really deal with her two most recent albums (Min bäste vän and The Change), so for me Marie’s latest album I can refer to is I en tid som vår. I liked its vibe and the fact that it was different from what she’s doing with Roxette. Den ständiga resan was actually her first solo album I that I bought and made me dig deeper into her solo efforts. From what I have heard of Nu!, Marie went back to her old style. Which is good.
1 – Kom vila hos mig (Come Rest With Me)
Paul: So, the first single. This doesn’t really set the tone for the whole album. An uptempo lead single from a ballad-heavy album. The song itself is pleasing enough, but the production sounds a bit flat to me. I agree with Thomas though, Marie does sound fantastic on this song, and the album as a whole.
Thomas: I think this is a decent pop-rock track but with a verse and a chorus that don’t go together as well as they should. Early ’90s production.
Kai: Listening to the song for the first time, long before I got this album in my hands, I feared that Nu! was going in the wrong direction again. Strong start but a weak chorus. But it does make sense to me in relation with the whole album. You need to take the actual listening easy, then this songs opens the door to the unique universe of this album.
2 – Det bästa som nånsin kan hända (The Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened)
Thomas: Lyrics written by Uno Svenningsson from pop group Freda. A country influenced ditty with a pedal steel all over it.
Paul: I knew there was a certain vibe to it, but couldn’t put my finger on it – country! Is that a first for Marie?
Thomas: I can’t recall ever hearing Marie doing country.
Kai: Boys, this is not staged: My cat has for the first time in her life claimed my headphones and wants to listen to this song. Did the check with a GT song, that killed her interest. Well, now that I have the headphones all for myself again, I think there is a certain trace of SOAP in it. Was it Christoffer? Who knows. Worth going and finding it out.
Thomas: Call Chris now!
3 – Det är nu! (It Is Now!)
Paul: The chorus sounds like a song that could’ve been on The Change, whilst the verse sounds like a Roxette B-side to me. Although, I can’t think of the last Gessle song that had a big key change like this one has! I think this may be a single at some point.
Thomas: I imagine this is what Per would describe as “…not Roxette enough.” Judging from the comments online this is however a really big song among Marie’s fans.
Kai: Hmmm, yes. The production is close to Roxette’s. Apart from this, “Det är nu!” could as well have been written for …efter stormen or Den ständiga resan. As I said, I prefer her older albums over the more recent ones, thus I tend to like it. Oh yes, it’s radio friendly, the strongest one so far. Catchy, positive, energetic.
Thomas: I too prefer her older albums.
4 – Längtan (Longing)
Paul: An acoustic ballad, complete with bird-tweeting in the background. Doesn’t really do much for me unfortunately.
Thomas: “Längtan” was also on …efter stormen. This is not the same track of course. A standard Marie track. Not at all bad, but also not very memorable.
Kai: It makes sense as a break in the run of the album. After “Det är nu!” you need a little time off. “Längtan” is not meant to be memorable, it’s instead supposed to calm you down and prepares you for the next song. I guess because of this role it was kept rather simple. It serves a purpose and it does that well.
Thomas: You are so wise, Sir!
5 – Sista sommarens vals (Last Summer’s Waltz)
Paul: The one track that Marie wrote herself for the album. Sounds like a typical bluesy Marie solo song.
Thomas: George Harrison meets The Eagles. This is the next single off Nu!. It’s too bad Marie couldn’t pen a few more songs for the album. She and Micke performed this on Skavlan’s TV show the other night, very intimate. And there’s even a video recorded for this!
Paul: I think if Marie had at least co-written more of the songs it would give the album a more personal sound, like her previous solo albums.
Kai: Agree with you, Paul. The album lacks a red line a bit but this one song stands for the way Marie used to write her good songs. I could certainly have lived with a couple of more songs of hers on Nu!. It’s danceable (considering it’s a waltz), emotional and plays with elements of her ‘80s and ‘90s work.
6 – Aldrig längre bort än nära (Never Farther Away Than Near)
Thomas: Another ballad. This album is more ballad heavy than Roxette’s Room Service!
Paul: As text writers were hired for this album, I wonder if they were given a specific theme to write lyrics to, or could it be whatever they wanted? Would this explain the sheer number of ballads on this album? What can I say about this song? It’s a typical Marie slow song that the fans will love.
Kai: Again, I consider this a kind of tea break on this album. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this role. Every song should have its function and this one makes you come back from the dance mood again. Is it catchy? Not for me but I doubt it was meant to be so. Instead, I like its overall feeling and Marie’s voice on it.
Thomas: Yes it’s a bit like “First Girl on the Moon” on Crash!Boom!Bang! – a breather.
7 – Bara 3 ord (Just 3 Words)
Paul: A mid-tempo one which is a welcome relief from the ballads. Marie’s vocals in this song sound like they were recorded live and left untouched.
Thomas: I think this may be my favorite on the album. Poppy Harrison with good vocals from Marie.
Kai: Hmm hmm… Actually, this song has the potential to be big but it doesn’t really do it for me. Someone forgot to release the hand brake. I hope you know what I mean?
Thomas: Yes, it could have left the ground a bit more. Kenneth Gärdestad wrote these lyrics.
8 – Känn dig som hemma (Make Yourself at Home)
Paul: I wonder if Per wrote this especially for Marie, or if it was a song that he had hanging around? The intro sounds like it was lifted straight off of the Small Apartments soundtrack. That said, the rest of the song doesn’t sound like a Gessle song to me.
Thomas: This has been praised in several Swedish newspapers as the best song on the album. Maybe it is. Decent track, but it’s sub-par for Per. I also wonder if it’s new or from his infamous shelf?
Paul: I think you need to find out, of course people will want to know!
Kai: If you ask me, this is the song that for me is closest to Roxette in a certain way. Not production-wise but there is something in it I cannot put my finger on. It must be the very special way Per writes melodies, the way he uses and combines tunes and samples from other songs, and all this in conjunction with Marie’s voice. It’s surely not a typical Marie song and somehow it sounds a little alien on this album. Or is the attempt to resemble production techniques of Marie’s earlier albums without actually hitting the nail on the head? I see potential here…
9 – Jag undrar vad du tänker på (I Wonder What You Are Thinking About)
Thomas: This sounds like everything on The Change, although positive. Not my cup of tea.
Paul: Some very high falsetto notes in this one. It’s like Marie was experimenting a little bit more with this track. It’s a sort-of-mid-tempo track.
Kai: First I thought, “oh another filler…” but it’s stronger than that. And what makes it different from The Change is its positive vibe. The whole song has a touch of Beatles to it. I’d even call it catchy. Why? I can’t say. Let’s just leave it at this. It’s good this way. Oh, and I think this is one of the songs you can hear Christoffer’s style in a lot. Both of them Beatles fans. I guess this is the solution to above mentioned confusion.
10 – Stjärna som brinner (Burning Star)
Paul: I’m sorry, but I really can’t stand this song. It just isn’t my sort of music at all.
Thomas: Acoustic ballad. We’ve heard it before, and better. Again, not bad, but just not good enough.
Kai: Gentle little song. Getting stronger while it plays. Could use a little more depth, the production does not really bring out the mood of the song. Or was it meant to be that way? That’s the good thing about being an artist: Everything can be intentional. Even afterwards. Oh, and since it’s a ballad, it will be followed by an uptempo song, right? Let’s see…
11 – I morgon (Tomorrow)
Paul: The 3rd uptempo song on the album. A nice vibe to this song, the melody is good too. Again, Marie sounds great!
Thomas: But it has that The Change sound… Marie sounds great though, obviously.
Kai: Ah, I looked forward to another uptempo song. But somehow I find this song not convincing. It would make a great ballad but it doesn’t really do it for me as a pop song. There are bits and pieces I would like to have heard developed further. Surprisingly, I think it’s the strings that somehow kill the fun of the song. Great voice performance of Marie’s and I like the overall idea of this song.
12 – Vad vore jag utan dig (What Would I Be Without You)
Paul: A nice album closer, with lyrics that are obviously referring to Marie and Micke’s marriage. I like the ending with just Marie’s voice.
Thomas: These lyrics are nice. A piano ballad with Harrison guitars all over it. A very nice song, totally written by Micke B.
Kai: Interesting song. Yes, interesting is what it hits best, in a good way. Again, I hear the Beatles in the piano track. Perfect closer for this album. Does not make you tired but gives you energy for the world outside these headphones.
Paul: People who know me will know that I’m not a massive fan of Marie’s solo material. There are some nice songs on this album, but overall I don’t think I’ll be listening to this album on a regular basis. Whilst there is nothing actually wrong with the album, its just not my personal taste. Of course, its fantastic that Marie has released a new album, and I will be seeing Marie’s live show in Gothenburg in March. Stand out tracks for me are “Det är nu!”, “Bara 3 ord” and “Vad vore jag utan dig”. 2/5
Thomas: I give it 2/5 as well. I find the album too weak in the end. Chalk it up to personal taste or not. I’m very glad Marie keeps making music, but she’s not hitting the spot for me, yet.
Kai: I was a little anxious before I heard the album for the first time but now I’m relieved that Marie could reconnect to her older standards. It certainly does not beat Den ständiga resan and there is not a song as super-strong as Tro in here but I heard a piece of art that made me look forward to more albums from Marie in the future. Marie’s voice is first class, the production is a little inconsistent, though. Would this album contain more Marie-penned songs, it would gain even more. I give it 4/5. It’s much better than I had expected, but have I mentioned before that I still see potential here and there?
Thomas: Yes I think you have! Ha ha!
Technical errors may occur.
November 24th, 2013
Internal reference code for TDR's Good Reporters: [tdr 312]
This article was posted here on TDR in these categories:
TDR:Editorial, TDR:Exclusive, TDR:Marie Fredriksson, TDR:Releases, vintage.