It's catch-up time now and over the coming weeks I'm going to post lots of album reviews, starting with the latest from Sweden's finest ambassadors of disco-pop, Alcazar. "Disco Defenders" was released back in March 2009.
This is Alcazar 3.0: their third line-up currently consists of the ever-present Andreas Lundstedt and Tess Merkel, and they were joined by Lina Hedlund in 2007. The cover is bold, flamboyant (and very pink!) and their mission remains the same - it's a party and everyone's invited!
The party kicks off with "We Keep On Rockin'", a song which I didn't really like to begin with but slowly grew on me and even made it into my top 50 songs of last year. "Burnin'" has Star Pilots written all over it. The highlight of the album IMHO is "Stay The Night", their Melodifestivalen 2009 entry, which was probably the most played song on the radio during my recent trip to Sweden so it'll always be very special for me!
"From Brazil With Love" has that once heard, never forgotten chorus, although it also has a strange familiarity about it as if we've heard it somewhere else before. My description of this song is schlager-carnival-pop, and it's very catchy indeed.
I wasn't really too excited about "Inhibitions" which is a more straightforward pop song perhaps more suited to a boy band/girl band than the discotastic Alcazar. As for "Harlem Nights" - disco goes jazz! You can just imagine them in a 1920s nightclub or something (!) it's a playful and fun diversion.
I was a bit disappointed by "Baby", the Pet Shop Boys song. It's all a bit....ordinary and mundane, compared to the fabulous "Love Life" from "Alcazarized" which is still one of their best songs. The party gets started again with "Jump Straight Into The Fire" which is more like the Alcazar we know and love, whilst "My My Me and Mine" is again a little bit Alcazar-by-numbers but I'm not really complaining. "Funkytown" didn't need remade, but if it has to happen then who better to do it than this band? They do a good enough job and don't really take it too far away from the original.
"Put The Top Down" is one of those 'let's get away from it all' songs with a very summery feeling to it, whilst "Thank You" is very reminiscent of Abba - quite ironic as Alcazar used to get compared to Abba quite a lot!
For me, "Disco Defenders" doesn't quite hit the dizzy heights of "Casino" or "Alcazarized" - there is no "Crying at the Discoteque" or "Not A Sinner Nor A Saint" for example. It's my own view that Alcazar's best days may be behind them but that's not to say this is a disappointing album, because it isn't. However when you set your standards so high it can get very hard to maintain them over the years and I think that's what has happened here.
On the plus side though, Alcazar remain committed to keeping disco alive - why else would they call their album "Disco Defenders"? - and we can't argue with them. They are still a very, very great pop group, but this is only a very good album rather than a great one.