Market saturation is a terrible thing. It is the multi-headed harbinger of music’s greatest foes; monotony and sameness. It spews forward in endless amounts, permeating our living rooms, our car stereos and our toned-into-repetition minds with alarming effectiveness, diluting our most wicked of senses. Our fabled music industry has deftly mastered the art of flooding; turning morsels of decent ideas into tsunamis of unexceptional trivia. If these waves were not damaging enough to our fragile landscapes, then the one-hand-in-our-wallets-fake-wink-of-the-eye routine they pull is about as insulting as our often naïve commercial drive to buy into this junk. It is unfortunate, this market saturation thing, because Mando Diao will ultimately suffer from inherent retro-rock backlash. It is an unfair predicament to be in because these fun packed Swedes (yes, Sweden – can’t escape from it can they?) have written a record filled with some of the finest beat influenced rock jangles this side of the 50’s and 60’s.
Bring Em In is sharp musings of said time period, one that merely seems to have been displaced in our chronological continuum. Unlike many of their current counterparts who update bygone sounds with modern narrative, chic jive and pretentious overtones; Mando Diao cavorts in gifted historical association. They are a cosmic rekindling of The Who with graceful sprinklings of bluesy guitars and an uncaring sense of freedom that remains through the eras. It’s the sort of underlying rhythmic sentiment that reflects in the ‘My Generations’ of this world – ultimately unending and timeless.
“Sheepdog” is the frontrunner, equipped with paralyzing percussion punching and the strong pull from the frenzied bass and guitar partnership that only compliments the track’s vocal competence. It evokes the same high-energy as an “I Can’t Explain”, a wide-eyed-grab-you-by-the-throat awakening. It forms an exciting one-two punch with “Sweet Ride”, the album’s ultimate highway hotrod soundtrack; a roaring compositional flurry with just a tad of harmonic love suited best for that blistering open road wind in your hair.
Mando Diao are simply fantastic in these depictions of moments. Take the organ soaked “Mr. Moon” as an example. Its jaded nature and solemn approach is rich in its passing affection, the quiet lonesome spiral caught by the words, “I wanna love you but I’m growing old / Ten little soldiers screaming in my soul / The day is using up its final breath / I’ve never been so sure”. The track is in distinct contrast to “The Band”, a spirited homage to pulsing beat rock; with its organ driven 50’s fueled guitar flustering and wailing vocal harmonies, it screams wild fun-filled nights of letting go.
There is a seamless transition between these more fussy rock anecdotes and those with an abundance more blues and soul. While they certainly do pay tribute, the album comes off not as some hackneyed, indiscernible paean; but each track an accomplishment in its own. “Motown Blood” oozes dirty swamp boogie pizzazz with its funkdooby bass thumping and blues groove, the likes of which B.B King would praise, and it doesn’t feel merely content at being so – influenced, but not dependent.
This seamlessness is quite the strength, you may bounce around from mop-top British rock n’ roll but when you hit the hot heat of America’s south, it’s an incredibly accepting welcome. Perhaps the album’s lone weakness lies in the closing “Lauren’s Cathedral”, the obligatory southern-tinged ballad that feels like the slow setting sun. While certainly less taking than the previous numbers, it manages to crawl into some salvation, a fitting reflective dissolve of sorts.
Oh woe to our music industry for trying to milk too much of a good thing; if it weren’t for the recent deluge of decent to good rock bands that have more than satiated a certain licentious craving for the rock n’ roll zenith, Mando Diao would be on their way to this unsurpassed apex – ultimately sharing the same podium with those sanctified. Nonetheless, those who are unfazed by the wealth of choice will see that Bring Em In is blessed with the same aura of excitement that 1965’s My Generation had, an exhilaration felt while spinning the record for the very first time, an undying importance that no amount of waterlog can sink.