Mando Diao, ‘Ode to Ochrasy’

By • May 1st, 2007 • Category: Album Reviews

Since the international break of The Hives in 2000, it seems like every band that fuses 1960s mod-rock with 1970s proto punk hails from Sweden. From Fireside to Caesars, to Hellacopters to The (International) Noise Conspiracy, it’s been safe to assume that, unless proven otherwise, any adrenaline-fueled, sweat-laced garage band that is finally getting its due is Swedish.

Mando Diao is no different, and since the band’s debut, has been one of the most compelling retro guitar bands to come from Scandinavia – or anywhere else. Combining the sarcastic snarl of co-vocalist Gustaf Noren with the bluesy throat of Bjorn Dixgard, the quintet can hedge its bets between angry rock’n’roll and catchy pop moments.

It’s this formula that gave 2003’s “Bring ‘em In” its underlining hint of optimism and starry-eyed good fortune, but also supplied 2005’s “Hurricane Bar” with cynical bitterness. “Ode to Ochrasy” is the band’s most consistent LP to date because the two vocalists have finally learned to co-exist. Not that the pair were feuding before, but rather that they rarely shared the microphone on the same song. But this third release finds the two often alternating between verse/chorus leads, while at other times harmonizing – giving the 14 tracks a British Invasion aura.

Despite not having a standout tune such as “Mr. Moon” and “God Knows” like the band’s previous works, it doesn’t have any obvious filler either. Even if some songs sound irritatingly similar (“You Don’t Understand Me” and “Tony Zoulious”) the ensemble has also inserted drastically different moments (the loungy “Josephine” and acoustic “Ochrasy”) among those traditional rockers.

Though Mando Diao isn’t exploring any new territory, the five-piece is certainly upholding Sweden’s reputation, and staking its blazon guitar claim right where it’s expected.

Northern Star, May 1, 2007

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