Norway - Full Moon 81 - 05/16/03
In one way Summerman was too early. The album was released while the snow still covered
the ground and we had snow in the air as late as the first weekend of May around these shores. On
the other hand the Change EP, part of our Luna menu way back in
November 2001, was supposed to be an
appetiser for this third album by the American Suitcase (AS). Finally, here it is.
Whereas other "underground" Norwegian pop-bands around such as the ones on the Perfect Pop
label (The Tables, Loch Ness Mouse, Ethnobabes etc.) are British flavoured, American Suitcase
leans more on the (surprise-surprise!) American tradition and includes more rock elements in the
music overall. The use of synthesizers here and there instead of the traditional organ also gives
AS a more modern sound compared to the aforementioned bands. But the sense for the catchy pop-tune
of the 60s and choruses in particular that instantly hits you and still can be played over an over
again is there. Names like Byrds, Big Star and Teenage Fanclub are frequently dropped in connection
with AS. Well, at least they give you an idea of what we're talking about.
Summerman is another string of pearls with 12 new songs plus the title track off the
Change EP. "A Legend Is Returning" and "Turn Me On Dead Man" were the winners first time
around. Particularly the former is the instant pop-killer: catchy-catchy with some XTC vibes. I
could swear I've heard it before but cannot pin down where, when or by whom. "Ghost Vibes" arrived
a little later with its sad string quartet(?); the "Eleanor Rigby" of the album. And the melancholic
theremin fits like hand in glove (even Pingo ought to agree here, or what?). Summerman is sturdy
throughout apart from a few filler tracks that lack a certain something extra. Though most of the
songs are not far behind the instant hits mentioned above. Even the calypso flavoured "There Again"
with some marimba sounding keyboard and lap steel, and the country flavoured "Love Trip" also with
lap steel and a banjo are cool!
If you listen carefully, you'll notice the songs are spiced with several fine details throughout:
harmonies, the odd instrument... Sure thing the album is well produced and well worth the wait.
But the climate still haven't proved if Summerman also is a summer album. Waiting for the
Distribution in Norway: Tuba!
Copyright © 2003 JP