Written by: Dave Cantrell
The world is out of its mind.
How is it a band this good, this much in command of pretty much every one of those all-too-elusive elements that make for great pop/rock songs, that is already, with the pluckily named Even the Good Days are Bad, on its tenth album (released May 7th on Tapete), not by this point enjoying some level of worldwide domination? They should be fêted by kings, knighted by queens. They should not only be permanently positioned on everyone’s musical radar but the radar system itself should be named after them. I mean, I hear a band of this surpassing quality, that’s been around this long – their self-titled debut arrived in 1997, ffs – and I become a madman, it takes every ounce of restraint I can summon to not run around grabbing strangers by their lapel or whatever strip of garment is at hand, the veins in my temples bulging, half frothing at the mouth while beseeching/haranguing them with words to the effect of ‘What is the matter with you? For all that’s worthy and good, drop what you’re doing and listen to this band at once!!!’
Could it be ABBA’s fault?
Last Days of April are, after all, based out of Stockholm and they sing exceptionally concise knock-you-back-on-your-heels, hook-filled pop songs in impeccable English so maybe the world only has room enough in its crowded heart for one such ‘exotic’ entity? Suppose we might try laying some blame as well at the Hives’ feet but that seems implausible because, even given the fact that the lads from the garages of Fagersta shared nearly the same release date for their commercially splashy debut and thereafter tramped around the world to relatively great acclaim, LDOA are, in our opinion, a better band than they are in all the myriad ways one should measure such things, the gist of which can be distilled down to a single word: universal. These Last Days folk, especially in the person standing at the center of the ring named Karl Larsson that sings, plays guitar and, way most notably, writes the songs, come as close to having that clamored-for ‘it’ factor that people are forever going on about as anyone or anything in this whole amorphous know-it-when-we-hear-it rock’n’roll shebang. One need only tap the ‘go’ button on whatever system or platform of choice to have this fact verified in, as they say, no uncertain terms.
Now, kicking off the tracklist with your title track, which also just happens to be among the most arresting and just plain gorgeous ‘instant classic’ songs you will have the pleasure of having ever heard in this life – go on, sling your arrows of “Hyperbole!” before hearing the song then prime you palate for some humble bärpaj – the thing cast in a bewitching gouache of the exuberant and the melancholic, its hook almost viciously sharp, is a nervy move, no doubt. But that’s just it. That tiny throwaway phrase ‘no doubt’ would seem to be exactly this band’s central operating principle. All over this record, like the nine preceding it, the Last Days of April simply glide through the multiverse landscapes of the pop sublime as if it’s just another sweet gambol through the park, like-sounding bands straggling behind them shouting out ‘Hey, wait up!’
A few for instances:
Past that opening gambit we come to “Run Run Run,” brought to you with a pastel glimmer as if Pulp had wandered off from a motorway on to the bonny slopes of Scotland or somewhere in order to catch another trippy melody and stash it in Jarvis’s pocket. A kind of killer idyllic, in other words, if you can imagine such a thing. Thereafter, “Had Enough,” a tough but delicate thing laced through with dreamy yearns of electric guitar and fraught with a fragility built from – and upon – the rubble of the modern condition; “Alone,” in the way of a time-honored heartache banger, charging forth at a Feelies/Roadrunner pace, ie going faster nimbler miles an hour while hurtling, it turns out, through a paradox, the lyrics’ unflinching and relentless insistence in detailing the narrator’s solitary blues not enough to stop you from dancing with abandon across the linoleum, the track, in other words and with not a little irony, possibly the year’s best choice yet to get yourself pumped to go out on a Friday night.
In that regard, whether on an individual level or through a broader lens, much of Last Days of April’s work and especially here on ETGDAB, has a bit of an implicit sigh to it that filters into the material like an echo of that band name’s first two words. Nothing apocalyptic, mind, nothing as dramatic as that, but there’s this tinge sounding throughout whereby the slightly unsettled personal would seem to be meeting the periled global for a spot of tea and therapy. Not a surprise perhaps for an album where the most endearing love song is called “Hopeless” (though in Larsson’s hands, of course, it’s something of a charming trait) and literally ends on a “Downer,” the depressive lilt of which, you might well guess, is anything but depressing, go figure. All that aside, however, it’s the songwriting, the seemingly sheer ease of its making, the soaring intimacy of the result, that lands the tender, heart-wrenchingly lovely pop punch time after time, track by track.
One could, then, place Last Days of April as neighbors of sorts with, say, Crowded House if minus the weight of legacy and with a touch less reliance on the pure pop ebullience seeded by that legacy. But, like Neil Finn (and we’ll go ahead and allow Field Music’s Brewis brothers into this elite club as well), Karl Larsson, since birth and surely enduring the length of his days, was gifted the pop Midas touch. Catch up to them if you haven’t, it’s life-enhancing. [pick up Even the Good Days are Bad by tapping that Tapete link up top]