Swedish group de la Mancha have heard about The End* of Music, and are not happy about the situation at all. Mournful acoustica and lingering rock with moderately angry outbursts in ashen surf-pop, the sophomore effort of Jerker Lund and Dag Rosenqvist may sound as if it has flowers in its hair, but the conditions in which they set up – grey skied, wallowing and wailing, shuffling feet — means said flowers are rarely in bloom for too long. An untainted, occasionally unplugged sound is broken up by the requisite echo really forcing home the despondency of their jangles and proselytizing, assisted by the pleads of the bluegrass-streaked “Under a Leaden Sky” and Thom Yorke/Gary Lightbody-ish “Erase.” See, the forecast isn’t great as it moves into a kind of grungy folk crossroads. Meanwhile, “Hidden Mountains” is like the lone cowboy making his way home and does offer a shard of semi-celestial hope.
Overall then, there’s one setting of the melodramatically, baggily wronged, building and releasing around the edges of walls of sound, that proves Swedish pop doesn’t have to be all smiles and sunbeams. Though dejected, it stays strong and doesn’t teeter on the verge of collapse (piano elegy “Willow Lane” considers throwing it all away), meaning that de la Mancha are best listened to somewhere dark, but where you can let in just a ray of daylight.
File under: Jasper TX, Sigur Ros