- Published on Friday, 26 February 2010 08:31
Review/Photos: El Perro Del Mar with Taken by Trees at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, IL; 2.22.10
words and photos by Kirstie Shanley
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Love is Not Pop. It’s a melancholy struggle. It has moments of dancing and longing, sure, but if you’re thinking of sizzle and pop, you’re probably recalling lust instead. No, love is not pop. It’s something grander that lasts until honesty takes over. Of course, El Perro Del Mar’s Sarah Assbring is no stranger to the lushness of loneliness, even having a song called “This Loneliness” on her 2006 self-titled release. With her most recent one, she has a new and slightly revised focus: Love is Not Pop but she wants you to let her in.
There’s always a real subtle sadness to Sweden’s lovely Sarah Assbring not to mention a jarring sense of dance moves. In a way, her new album fits perfectly as a progression from the woman who could make tears fall by singing about parties and buying candy. She could take the most mundane of topics and make a grown up weep whilst wondering what ever the matter is. Of course, she also manages to tackle real life issues that often do cause genuine heartaches for many people, most recently live and on this past album with songs like “Gotta Get Smart” in which a breakup is better than living a lie.
Songs like “Let Me In,” which she opened up the hour long set with, seem almost cheesy in comparison and yet it’s one of the catchier tunes on the album and proved a worthy entrance. “Change of Heart” would have been a great follow up if not for the cheesy chorus guitar pedal accompanying Assbring’s lovely vocals. Still, one wants to listen to Assbring and reconsider leaving her when she asks you to because she always comes off as so incredibly sincere.
The set did manage to pick up a little with a lush “L is for Love” and with the surprising covers of xx’s “Shelter” and even better, “Blue Moon” by Big Star. It wasn’t difficult to imagine Assbring recording and performing a blissful entire album’s worth of Big Star covers, in fact. It seemed a perfect fit with her dreamy sense of existence. It is worth mentioning that Assbring did bring a skilled backing band with her including a drummer, bassist, and guitarist but as always it was mainly her presence that seemed irreplaceable in every way.
Opening up for El Perro Del Mar was fellow Swedish charmer Victoria Bergsman as part of the band Taken by Trees. Bergsman’s former band The Concretes created some of the best gems ever incarnated before they seemed to disappear (atleast for now). Taken by Trees is a little different in the sense that it seems more inspired by world music and Bergsman’s trip to Pakistan. She also used footage of this trip as visuals projected above her (as well as a still of her very well loved cat.)
The performance was much different from when she was with The Concretes as well and there was even more focus on her as lead singer and less chemistry and energetic dynamics between her and the bandmates. Still, it’s Bergman’s sweet vocal distinctiveness that you find yourself being satisfied with and longing for no matter what incarnation she decides to play as/with. Highlights of her hour long set included “Greyest Love of All,” “Watch the Waves,” “Day by Day” and her unlikely cover of Animal Collectives “My Girls” (renamed “My Boys”) which also appears on her newest second album, 2009’s East of Eden.