Hurricane Bar (Mute)
by Brian Varney
The fellas in Mando Diao have been quick to distance themselves from the “new Swedish” sound, or whatever it is folks are labeling the spate of quality bands to recently come from Sweden. The best of these bands, like the Hives and Soundtrack of Our Lives, don’t really have much in common with each other except a willingness to proudly display their influences. While Mando Diao doesn’t really sound like either of these bands, they certainly share this willingness.
In Mando Diao’s case, the most prominent influence is a band like the Buzzcocks, who pair a bit of punk rock spasticity with an unshakable ear for classic pop of all types, be it Britpop or bubblegum. What you should expect when you play Hurricane Bar, then, is a group of super-catchy songs with all of the little touches you’ve come to expect from pop songs (“aaaah” vocal harmonies behind the chorus, handclaps, you know the drill) with a nice, high-energy presentation that stops short of pop-punk territory. Sounds like a bit of a juggling act, and I’d imagine it probably is, but the band handles the challenge with aplomb. At 14 songs and 50 minutes, Hurricane Bar is probably a bit longer than it needs to be, but this minor flaw can’t really dull the impact of good stuff like “God Knows.”