Some may disagree with me, but if I was having a tough week, I’d prefer listening to indie band Liechtenstein than some Swedish death metal group. Since starting out in 2005, they’ve put out a single or a mini-LP a year. I’m hoping they grow more prolific because Passion For Water contains melodies so delicate they melt in your ears.
Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, Liechtenstein patterns itself as a successor to 80s bands like Talula Gosh, Marine Girls, and The Pastels. These groups were the alternative to punk rock music. They were somewhat angsty, but less angry and focused more on singing and songwriting. However they kept a similar DIY attitude, 50s/60s music influences and love of rapid guitar strumming.
Since last year’s mini-LP, Survival Strategies in a Modern World, the all female group has undergone a significant lineup change. Lead vocalist and guitarist Renee Gustafsson and drummer Elin Engström remain, but bassist Naemi Pebaque left to pursue a theater career. Replacing her is Ulrika Mild from Swedish electronic band Compute. They’ve gained a fourth member, Emma, on vocals and keyboards. This makes them a quartet for the first time since guitarist Teresa Jaksetic departed in 2008.
Passion For Water is again full of glassy, shimmery guitar chords. In addition, it features horns on a couple of songs. Those instruments’ inject lots of upbeat energy, especially on the disco-flavored title track.. Using them is also an interesting way of doing some soloing which the band hasn’t really been known for. You can hear this on the furiously paced “On the Tram.”
The vocals continue to surprise me, especially the three-part harmonies. The first song opens with all their sparkling voices. Renée sings with a deep vivacious British accent while cleverly stringing her words together. I like the syncopation on “Passion For Water.” On the last album, they blanketed the vocals in echo. Thankfully, they’ve dialed it down so their voices sound clearer but still retro.
One of Liechtenstein’s more fun sounding releases, Passion for Water skips social commentary. However, I doubt any “good girls” of the Eisenhower era would sing a rock 'n' roll song about writing their names on bus seats as these girls do on “Spending Time With You.” The playful lyrics also update the 1950s notion of love with lines like, “I'll tell you you are my only one. Not because I love you, but because I like that smile.”
I’m not a vinyl collector, but I did find it interesting that Fraction Discs include download codes for the mp3s and the music video for “On the Tram.” Really though, I’ve got a craving for a true follow up album to Survival Strategies in a Modern World. The three songs here seem part of a more outstanding whole.
You can buy the Passion For Water vinyl single on July 20.
Download "Passion for Water"