THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES Behind The Music (Psychobabble)
The Soundtrack Of Our Lives are a Swedish sextet, and "Behind The Music" is their third album. They make a noise that suggests, among millions of other possibilities, The Flaming Lips jamming with Black Sabbath (with all the rampant experimentation and wild, child's eye wonder of the former and the thudding heavyosity of the latter), Wilco in outer space or Spiritualized reborn as Norse Gods. Even the orchestra of instrumentation employed (alongside the more traditional rock weaponry are ranged sitar, dulcimer, double bass, violin, cembalo, mellotron "and additional instruments that makes (sic) us too pretentious to mention") suggests Gabriel-era Genesis, although no song is permitted to linger longer than five minutes and 14 seconds, and nobody dresses up as a bat or a flower.
Whilst it's easy to appreciate what The Soundtrack Of Our Lives are doing from the outset, it takes a little longer to actually enjoy it. First impressions are not helped by the band's own somewhat foggy production, and the songs on the first side are mostly drawn from the more bluff and bludgeoning corners of their sonic palette. But persistence pays dividends: the clouds begin to part during "Broken Imaginary Time", which arrives led by a sombre church mouse organ line and departs with the ominous pronouncement "You're such a lightweight after all/You're such a nobody at all". Equally brilliant is the vindictive power pop stomp of "21st Century Rip Off" which follows it: but for the sitars this could be an outtake from Big Star's "Radio City" album. Immortality anthem "Still Aging" sounds like a lost 60s psyche classic, all tinny organ and sub-Beach Boys harmonies. "In Your Veins" is possibly the album's greatest achievement, a gorgeous, majestic, acoustic thing. The double vinyl issue of "Behind The Music" even arrives with five bonus tracks, one of which, the chilling nursery rhyme "Hang Ten", really should have been included in the main feature.
"Behind The Music" is a fine album, if not quite the saviour of popular music it has been hailed as in some quarters. Although it can be discussed comfortably with reference to any number of other bands, it would be totally incorrect to suggest that The Soundtrack Of Our Lives are Starsailor-style slavish imitators - there's a world of difference between celebrating and aping your influences, and TSOOL are on the right side of that divide.