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El Perro Del Mar From the Valley to the Stars

  • Words: Joe Colly
  • Label: The Control Group
  • XLR8R Rating: 7/10

Sarah Assbring surprised many in 2006 with her self-titled singles collection. Arriving amidst a wave of similarly minded Swedish indie from pals like Jens Lekman and The Concretes, the album carefully balanced vintage girl-group harmonies with a dark, somber aesthetic. Her cover-model looks and dazzling voice didn’t hurt, either. With From the Valley to the Stars, Assbring puts together her first true album with a cohesive theme, and the results are mixed. Mostly gone are El Perro’s Phil Spector-y guitars and doo-wop horns–here, they’re replaced by organs that complement the record’s mournful mood. Despite a lack of pep, the album’s still very pretty, but without any cheerful elements balancing the tone, it often feels like melancholic overload. There are many moments to love, though, particularly the effervescent “You Can’t Steal a Gift” and its dirge-y follow-up, “How Did We Forget?”

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