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The Perishers : From Nothing to One

REVIEW: The Perishers: From Nothing to One
6.16.2002 by Sean

The Perishers : From Nothing to One [Music Network Records Group AB (NONS Records), 2002]

Three words? Like Travis? Buy.

Okay, all you Travis fans. I know you're out there. You keep buying Travis records, for gosh-sakes, even after hearing the third single from The Man Who and realizing that "Turn" is the exact same song as "Driftwood" is the exact same song as "Why Does it Always Rain on Me". I don't have anything against Fran Healy and his pals - once, I almost had "melancholy britpop" tattooed onto my back, and Coldplay's Parachutes has been on heavy rotation since 2000. Still, I've been consistently frustrated by Travis' lack of originality, playing and replaying the same lyrical and melodic forms. On last year's album, "Sing"'s use of a banjo initially fooled me into thinking the band had undergone some artistic development, but no, no - it was just some hick Travis invited into the studio to fool gullible twits like me.

So what does this have to do with the Perishers? Not much, I admit. The Perishers aren't from Scotland, they're from Sweden. Yeah, Sweden, as in the Hives, as in Randy. Also, remember, as in... the Cardigans. The Perishers play pop music and... now you see where I as going... they play it like Travis. Ola Klüft's voice is half-way between Fran and the Wallflowers' Jakob Dylan (something that should situate him somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, I know, not in northern Scandinavia), equal parts troubadour smooth and James Taylor gruff. While songs like "When I Wake Up Tomorrow" sound like they're ripped straight from Travis out-takes, others - such as "When I Fall" - have a swarthier, rootsier timbre.

Don't get me wrong: even when the Perishers have a, er, "swarthy" or "rootsy" um "timbre", they still sound like Travis. That's the thing. Like Travis, each song pretty much sounds the same. It sounds pretty good, sure, but you're not going to undergo some revelatory emotional journey when listening to From Nothing to One. You might feel kinda down, kinda frowny, maybe romantic in a faded-rose-petals sort of way. But will this disc change you? Will it move you? Will it get you dancing? No. But hey, there's more to life, I guess...

"When I Wake up Tomorrow" and "On My Way Home" are both fine examples of the Perishers' rainy songwriting. Drums patter along, piano and guitar play sincere chord-progressions under an earnest, semi-vibratto voice. Choruses are made up of long phrases, vocal harmony, and lazy excursions into a confident falsetto. "In the Blink of an Eye" takes a more commercial acoustic guitar strum, a chorus that twinkles and pulses slowly larger. "Steady Red Light," is quite beautiful - unadorned voice, guitar, piano - and very sad. At the same time, Klüft's delivery relies too heavily on the (albeit poetic) lyrics, and the ache of the song falls well short of the pain expressed in the works of Hayden or Songs:Ohia. There is a change only towards the end, when the repeated "You don't care for me," is suddenly stronger, harder - an assertion that stings rather than simply moaning. For a moment, the protagonist's rejection is a raw truth, not a romantic ideal.

The eleven songs of From Nothing to One never astonish, but their mood is a warm, consistent grey. For those seeking a cloudcover of melancholy and a warm, deep voice, the Perishers display a welcome talent, though never an affecting originality.

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