Back in 1995, I worked with a Swedish band performing rhythm and blues in kind of a Brand New Heavies fashion. The band went nowhere on their home turf of Stockholm, which was still immersed in the alternative rock/punk scene back then. Little did those guys realize that soul music would become a sensation just eight years later. And that former punk vocalist Anders Wendin would become its torchbearer under the weird name of Moneybrother; and their recent EP being They're Building Walls Around Us.
Moneybrother’s 2003 debut mixed soul with reggae, punk, and a little bit of American rock and roll to create a danceable solution to the despondent legacy left by Scandinavian metal and alternative rock. Moneybrother’s North American debut, They’re Building Walls Around Us, is a compilation made out of two full length Burning Heart releases, To Die Alone and the Swiss Grammy Award winning Blood Panic, plus some B-sides from various singles. As the press release says, Moneybrother sounds like Abba being fronted by Bruce Springsteen. However, Wendin does not have the tense edginess that made Springsteen a superstar, nor does Wendin possess Springsteen’s immense songwriting gifts. Still, They’re Building Walls Around Us is a breezy, stylish effort that showcases Wendin’s sex appeal and sense of fun. The single starts with the disco influenced title track, and is immediately followed up by “Reconsider Me”, a warm piece of fluff that has Wendin sporting his best Springsteen impersonation on the album. Other standout songs include “Bum F*cked (For Sure),” and “Eventually It’ll Break Your Heart,” two loved and left ballads which will make many pubescent teenage girls sob in their pillows.
Generally, this isn’t my kind of music and my first instinct was to slam this album because of its generic qualities. But there is something charming about this EP. Maybe it's Wendin’s playfulness as he warbles through each of these hopelessly mindless songs. Or maybe the earnestness to reproduce a sound that rock music was built on. It’s hard to say, but Wendin certainly captures the spirit of American pop and bends it perfectly to fit his passionate manner.
The Swedish group I worked with back in 1995 are probably kicking themselves for not sticking with their rhythm and blues instincts. For the moment, they’ll have to live under the gigantic shadow cast by Wendin and the exceptional pop of Moneybrother.