As one half of the Swedish pop duo The Merrymakers, David Myhr has already made his mark on the world of power pop, but with his first solo album, 2012’s ‘Soundshine’ he ups the ante to a level that few other musicians working within a similar genre could ever hope to reach.
From the opening bars of ‘Never Mine’, with a barrage of stabbing pianos, this is the work of a man firing on all cylinders, not even allowing the listener the luxury of a warm-up intro. The rumpty-tumpty pianos suggest Myhr has a strong love for McCartney, while the rest of the arrangement is deceptively complex with a gorgeous wandering bassline and plenty of multi-layered vocals. You want the almost obligatory Brian Wilson-esque Christmas bells? You’ve got those too, as well as a very seventies guitar break – all two bars worth! – which brings yet another seventies influence via some old fashioned string bending. A very strong opening, certainly, but ‘Soundshine’ has even better tunes in store.
‘Looking For a Life’ moves things along at a far brisker pace, as Myhr offers a number which packs a hefty (but still mightily tuneful) punch. The ringing guitars, slightly accented voice, plunky musical hook and mildly distracting keyboards are hugely reminiscent of other Swedes The Wannadies at their most commercial. If you’ve ever had a soft spot for their ‘Be A Girl’ release from the early 90s, enjoyment here comes firmly guaranteed. ‘Loveblind’ is a ridiculously sunny piece of pop where Myhr’s crisp lead vocal sounds fantastic over even more bouncing and stabbing pianos. Shameless handclaps and slightly fuzzed up guitars flesh out an already superb arrangement – one which could only be described as a mini masterclass in pop song writing. With hooks a plenty and an absolutely immaculate performance from all concerned, fans of classic pop are going to love this track from the very first listen.
‘Don’t Say No’ begins well with an optimistic lyrical quality, while musically, occasional bells and a very familiar drum line recall Phil Spector’s wall of sound recordings. Just as you’re expecting things to pick up, Myhr does not disappoint: a breezy chorus brings a classic sounding key-change and a simplicity which ensures instant enjoyment. A choir of backing voices and subtle saxes may hint at the classic seventies pop of Three Dog Night, but an increased use of guitar toward the song’s climax has a much more modern edge, more in keeping with Jellyfish and their critically acclaimed 90s revivalism of similar styles of pop/rock.
Other upbeat tracks of note include ‘Got You Where He Wanted’ which makes great use of brass in a very Boo Radleys style while using harmony vocals to drive home some a simple hook (with the subtlety of a sledgehammer) and ‘I Love The Feeling’, a exquisite track pulling together previous McCartney-esque strolling rhythms – this time with heavy usage of electric piano – and even more brass. While the basic elements of these tracks don’t break any particularly new ground from the previously discussed numbers, as you’d expect, it all comes together in a way which creates absolutely perfect AM radio pop.
Although David Myhr is at his strongest when it comes to upbeat and sunny pop, it seems only fitting to mention ‘Soundshine’s only introspective number. ‘The One’ presents an aching vocal over a string section, which is very Beatles inspired. In three and a half minutes, Myhr gets to show off more of his vocal range than usual. The relatively minimalist approach provides a sharp contrast with most of Myhr’s other work. If there’s a minor complaint, it tends to break the album’s overall momentum a little; in isolation, however, it’s another piece of music which sounds very pleasing to the ear.
An album worthy of filing next to the Jellyfish records, The Silver Seas ‘Chateau Revenge!‘ and Farrah’s self-titled release, ‘Soundshine’ does exactly what it claims – twelve pieces of great sounding pop which mostly act as a welcome ray of sunshine. Quite frankly, if you don’t raise a smile and feel somehow attached to this album by the end of the first track, you just don’t appreciate classic sounding pop music…and probably never have.