Friday, January 2nd, 2009
Names Not Forgotten
An introduction to Montt Mardié
David MagnussonIt seems rather fitting that the first post of this new year should be devoted to an artist who seems to have great difficulty in choosing a favourite year, musically speaking, so he’s opted to go with them all. Montt Mardié is the stage name of David Olof Peter Pagmar, a Swedish pop savant whose two albums – the 2005 debut Drama and the 2007 double-set Pretender/Clocks – were cherry-picked last year for the UK release Introducing… The Best Of.
While it may seem odd to have a “best of” for someone barely 25 years old and with just two albums under his belt, Introducing really does feel like a compilation of top singles from an artist who’s been at it far longer than he has. His compositions tend to be rooted in throwback ’60s pop style, grand and orchestrally-minded and full of wit and humour, but Pagmar doesn’t discriminate when it comes to digging through his record or movie collections for inspiration. Musical cribs from The Cure nestle alongside classic Brill Building song structures and quotes from Meatloaf. Lyrics reference Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Star Wars – Introducing is a glorious open house pop culture party, where everything is fair game and welcomed with love.
Though I’ve no hesitation to recommend Mardié to fans of fellow Swedish troubadour Jens Lekman, who makes an appearance on duet “Castle In The Sky”, there’s more that distinguishes the two than make them similar once you get into the “male singer-songwriter pop auteur” category. If Lekman is the droll, detached sophisticate, then Pagmar is his earnest and wide-eyed younger brother, too enthused about everything to worry about looking cool. Whether backed by a full band and/or orchestra or just his own home recordings, Pagmar delivers everything with breathless enthusiasm and frequently slips into a soulful falsetto that’s just imperfect enough to be endearing. And on the tracks where he’s accompanied by female backing vocals, it’s simply sublime. There’s no trace of irony here, just giddy devotion to the joys of pop music and it’s difficult to resist. In fact, why would you want to? If Peter Bjorn & John were the new face of Swedish pop for 2007 and Lykke Li was last year’s model, then I nominate Montt Mardié – who is currently at work on album number three – for 2009.
Peculiarly, the Swedish albums appear easier to find than the comp. In addition to Amazon.com appearing to have stock (see links above), both are available at eMusic. But if you’re keen to try the single-disc version, inquire with the good folks at Ruffa Lane, who put it out.
The Guardian declared Mardié their band of the day last June and basically described him as the second coming of Prefab Sprout – a title I can’t comment on because I know nothing of the first coming of Prefab Sprout.
MP3: Montt Mardié – “1969”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “Metropolis”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “New York”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “High School Drama”
MP3: Montt Mardié – “Come On Eileen”
Video: Montt Mardié – “High School Drama”
Video: Montt Mardié – “Metropolis”
Myspace: Montt Mardié
20 Album Covers recreated in Lego – all I can say is that Lego men come with much more interesting accessory pieces than when I was a kid.