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First Listen: Amason, 'Sky City'

Amason's new album, <em>Sky City</em>, comes out Jan. 27.
Amason's new album, <em>Sky City</em>, comes out Jan. 27.

Amason is a Swedish musical pastiche with a lot of names and a lot of talent: Gustav Ejstes (from Dungen), Amanda Bergman (who performs as Idiot Wind), Petter Winnberg and Nils Törnqvist (from Little Majorette) and Pontus Winnberg (from Miike Snow) all contribute voices and sounds. So it's no surprise that Amason's debut feels all over the map. In fact, that's its strength.

Take "Älgen." The opening track to Sky City, it's a jittery bit of pop with shades of late-'70s Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. But the rest of the album conjures a wide variety of '80s pop sounds — each polished and slick, as if Amason's members had heard Simple Minds or Tears For Fears or even Hall And Oates while in utero. Just listen to that saxophone in "Kelly."

Still, all those throwback sounds still seem present-tense, thanks in large part to their performance. Bergman's voice feels simple, honest and devoid of phony romanticism, while Ejstes conjures a strong hint of John Lennon in "Elefanten." Sung mostly in English (and occasionally in Swedish), the lyrics are strong and poetic, with patterned vocals often sung in unison. Never locked to one mood, these songs convey the spirit of a variety show in concert; on Sky City, they replicate the intimacy and care of a great mixtape.

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