By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Spins and Reviews | 7.25.18
The Grand Levé | The Grand Levé (2018)
The music reviewer’s job, the same as it ever was, is to paint a picture with words that convince you that an album either isn’t worth a scintilla of your time (which, of course, we don’t do here) or should rise to the top of your must-buy list. So, we talk about an artist’s influences and how he or she fits into the scheme of things that matter to you and yours. Are the songs good? Are they catchy? Do they matter?
Then, it’s up to you, and if we’ve done our job, your next move is easy.
Göran Hjertstedt, who made the quite grand The Grand Levé with Europe’s (the Swedish rock band, not the continent) Ian Haugland, Ulf Holmberg, Göran Holmberg, Staffan Ebbesten, and Jonas Karlberg, knows that making the next move–the creative move, in this case–is never easy. His more than four decades making music, primarily with hit duo Visitors in the late 1980s, Brains Beat Beauty in 1997, and Longplayer beginning in 2010, can be looked at as an extended ramping-up period during which he soaked up the key attributes that attracted him to his favorite artists and led to his new songs (even if two of them date back to the time of Visitors).
Basically, Göran Hjertstedt has the same record collection as you do, which means that you and his new songs will get along just fine.
Although The Grand Levé fairly obviously shares cell structure with the music of Jeff Lynne, 10cc, Queen, Tom Petty and other members of the usual suspects club, and traffics in motifs pioneered during such periods as the 1960s and 1700s (note the classically-inclined first track, “And Light Appeared,” which straddles influences by either consciously or subconsciously quoting Elton John), the artist Hjertstedt is his own man, and The Grand Levé is his album.
This enticing mix of catchy, well-crafted songs knows how to command your attention. “All in the City,” very Electric Light Orchestra in every imaginable and loving way; “Free,” very melody-rich Tom Petty; and “Yesterday Man,” very pure pop and Göran Hjertstedt by way of Longplayer, lead the more than sufficiently well-appointed pack. The mutli-retro “Two to Tango,” a bluesy drawing room number about love and dancing that namechecks Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and “What Am I Gonna Do (Lunar City Heartache),” a luscious, romantic mid-tempo ballad with sci-fi overtones, are two more superlative melodic wonders. The alluring, closing instrumental, “Memory Lane,” is perhaps the perfect ruminative end to these proceedings, marked by lovely, expressive electric guitar lines that sing.
When all is said and done, The Grand Levé makes its mark because its sound pictures, drawn with love and affection, tell an affecting, collective tale. The Grand Levé is nothing less than a triumph for fans of melodic pop music. Same as it ever was, in fact.
Now Playing in Rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Ride the Wind,” “All in the City,” “Two to Tango,” “Free,” “What Am I Gonna Do (Lunar City Heartache),” and “Yesterday Man”
Where to Get It: Digital download at Amazon. Stream on YouTube and Spotify
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