I know two things for certain about the Swedish group Ella Rouge. Their self-titled CD is filled with infectious songs that stick in my mind long after I've turned off the CD player. And they are one of those bands that are hard to classify. Their songs rock, with strong pop sensibilites. Not like Top 40 radio pap-for-the-masses kind of stuff but closer to the power pop of the '80s. While most of the tunes are guitar-based, they make good use of keyboards too — but this is not electronica or dance music, either.
"That's Me With The Gun" is the opening track and from its first notes I'm reminded of Mr. Elvis Costello. Not because their sound mimics his, but because the melody is hum-along good while the side of life that the lyrics portray are not pretty. Then there's the keyboards — I can't decide if they sound more like Yes or the signature riff in the Who's "Baba O'Reilly". As clear as it is that these boys know their classic rockers, it's that hard to sum up their sound in a word or two.
Next up is "Holly Golightly", one of several nods to American pop culture and its influence around the world. This ode to the heroine of Breakfast At Tiffany's is sweet and lilting. It also highlights the vocal abilities of frontman Ludvig Anderssen. By the way, if that last name rings a bell with you, it's because papa Benny was one fourth of the '70s group ABBA, making Ella Rouge's singer/songwriter a bona fide second generation hit maker.
Further on into the CD is "The L.A. Dogs", a fine example of the tight harmonies this sextext are capable of. In fact, all six of them are so in sync with one another that you would think that they've been playing together for years instead of having just put out this first (of hopefully many) release.
The final tune of this 12-song CD is primarily an instrumental, although there is a short vocal intro to it. Filmmakers should take note of this as I think that they could have a future composing incidental background music in movies as well as becoming an internationally known musical group.
For me, it all boils down to that fact that if you love music, the labels just don't matter. Either it touches you and makes you feel alive or it doesn't. Don't try to pigeonhole Ella Rouge into one genre or another. Just give them a listen — both their official website and MySpace profile will let you preview a couple of the songs on Ella Rouge. But I found out that I wasn't satisfied until I had the entire album to listen to. Let me know what you think.