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Good Karma Import
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Limited vinyl LP pressing. 2016 album from the Swedish pop duo. On April 8 1989, Roxette climbed to the top of the US charts with their infectious single "The Look", effectively turning the world upside down for two Swedish artists and millions of fans. Much has been written about the unlikely turn of events that made it possible for the song to reach the coveted #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, giving Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle their well-deserved and much desired international break. They eventually went on to have a further 3 #1 singles in the US, with 'Listen To Your Heart,' 'Joyride' and of course the timeless classic 'It Must Have Been Love'... 30 years and 60 million records later, Roxette are back with their 10th studio album Good Karma. Having completed a massive 2015 tour schedule playing to audiences all around the world the band have returned to the studio producing an album that proves why they were on of the most successful bands of the 80s and 90s.
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As usual, it's Per's show, but Marie frees him to write ballads in a mode that he doesn't really do on his solo albums. Both singers are in fine voice, even if there are a few points in which Marie's trademark "oh-oh"s seem a little unnecessary. Nevertheless, her performances sound great, especially on the ballads. She sounds as good as ever, which is remarkable, given her health scares. It's really inspiring. These artists' love for music and appreciation for each other, and their audience, really comes across.
Roxette is often accused of padding their albums with filler, and I agree that they generally have a few standout tracks, though I would never say they put anything less than 100% into their songs. Good Karma, any way you look at it, has zero filler. It's total Roxette throughout. My favorite song is the opening "Why Dontcha?", but it would be hard to pick a second favorite, because this is outstanding throughout.
Most of the other tracks are the usual run-of-the-mill pop hook melodies that all Roxette fans are accustomed to. Key tracks to look out for are the Marie-led title track, the power ballads "It Just Happens" and "Why Don't You Bring Me Flowers?", and the club-dance ready, move-until-your-knees-drop "Some Other Summer". Roxette are still touring as hard as ever, and for the last few years, you could listen to Per Gessle talk with the host of Nordic Rox on SiriusXM's Spectrum Channel every Sunday, although it seems that it may no longer be on the air.
The only thing that threw me at first was the keyboard & EDM-dominated arrangements and guitars taking a backseat or gone altogether. BUT the songs are so strong, Per in prime hook form, that it almost doesn't matter. In a way, this is "Look Sharp 2016", where they first found the "Roxette Sound" in 1988 with keyboards and electronics, before guitars came creeping back in. The songs are just as catchy and naively green as they were learning as they went along...this time with the whole current EDM culture...but Gessle still keeping his eye on the hooks and never letting go, finding a way to combine the two in experimental yet accessible catchy ways. Everything sounds like prime Gessle, espesh "Why Dontcha", which is a stylistic cousin to "Pure Sugar" from 2001's "Room Service". The first single, "It Just Happens", though...maybe coincidentally...doesn't sound Gessle-ish at all...the melodies sounded familiar though...it resembles a song called "Patience" by underrated female English singer/songwriter Nerina Pallot, off her 2004 debut "Dear Frustrated Superstar". I don't think that was purposely done that way...um, it just happens?? (Crash Boom Bang!! Haha). The rest of the 11 songs have many charms, both immediate and hidden, revealing themselves over many listens. I'm happy it's better than "Charm School" and on the same quality level as "Traveling" or "Room Service", "Have A Nice Day", "Crash Boom Bang" or "Joyride"...better to go out on a high note (if it is), than a bummer disappointing low note...not that "Charm School" is bad, it's not, it has some good songs, it just doesn't sound as inspired as Gessle's/Marie's best...and even sounds laboured in others...but this in their top notch league...
Another reason a purchased this CD is to thank Roxette for 30 years of wonderful pop, as this will likely be their last album as a band. I wish Marie and Per and their families all the best and hope that Marie can somehow get better. Since she's so private, there's no real way of knowing what's really going on, but still, I hope for her sake - the Mighty Marie, as Per calls her.