Since his solo debut The Last Tycoon (2008), Peter Morén has in fact released two more full-length solo-albums both sung in Swedish, I spåren av tåren (2010) and Pyramiden (2012).
These two Swedish albums were critically acclaimed for their eclectic musical nature. Morén really let loose, taking in influences from soul, r’n’b, jazz, folk, pop, new wave, Brazilian rhythms, rockabilly, etc. There are moments and songs that are reminiscent of the indie music that Peter Bjorn And John have become known for and Morén also found inspiration in Swedish versions of classic songs by the Everly Brothers, Smokey Robinson and even The Paris Sisters. Most of all, the critics praised his lyrics and use of the language.
Obviously Morén found it liberating to write and sing in his native language for the first time. He threw in references to Swedish culture, history and politics and played around with words in ways he just couldn’t do as fluently in English. The range of subjects he could cover in a pop song increased radically for him and while both albums have only been promoted and distributed in Sweden, most of Peter’s audience remains outside of Sweden.
With that in mind Morén set out to release a number of solo EPs in English that would bring this newly tapped writing freedom into the fold and make more of his solo work accessible to his non-Swedish audience. The first EP – Broken Swenglish Vol. 1 came out late last year and the plan was to release Broken Swenglish Vol. 2 in March 2014. However, due to some unforeseen obstacles like a broken hard drive and some missing audio files (which Morén had to re-record), the process took a bit longer. Now nearly a year after Vol. 1 was released, Morén and INGRID are set to release Broken Swenglish Vol. 2 featuring five songs all previously released in Swedish with new interpretations in English.
“The Odyssey” (“Odyssén” from 2012’s Pyramiden) not only namechecks the classic Homer tale, it’s also a love/hate tale about pop music and the pop music business with a kind of “bite the hand that feeds you” feel – to cite one of Peter’s heroes Elvis Costello. Morén simply asks if it’s worth bringing more pop-songs to the already crowded radio airwaves. Ironically the song is extremely catchy and the original Swedish version received considerable airplay on Swedish radio. “The Odyssey” also snaps impressionistic shots from touring America and the wear and tear of life on the road. In addition, the Swedish version was accompanied by a very funny video inspired by Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up” where Peter plays each band member (of different subgenre music-dudes) and features some semi-choreographed dance-moves performed by random people near the INGRID head-quarters in Stockholm. Stay tuned, as an edited version of the video will be released for the English version of the song!
Another song on Broken Swenglish Vol. 2 is “Esther” (from 2010’s “ spåren av tåren). This song was another small hit in Sweden and was named after Peter’s dog and mainly dealing with feelings of inadequacy in regards to treating the ones you love the most in the best possible way. Most of us have been through that and the melancholy tone of the song colored by an autumnal folk-rockish feel, like golden leaves falling on the ground.
In the second song on the new EP – “Hit Where It Hurts” (the title track from I spåren av tåren) Peter flirts big-time with his golden oldie favorites from soul-tastic labels like Philly International and Motown. This track is almost doo-wop in a soft but swinging way not unlike The Miracles or Delfonics, but set in a Swedish blue-eyed idiom.
That Peter is a big fan of classic soul comes through again on the last song on the EP, the harder hitting title-track from Pyramiden “The Pyramid,” complete with a shredding sax-solo. Peter also brings some of the new wave feel he brought to songs like “The Odyssey” to this last track as well as tying in themes from the other songs like inadequacy. He also drew influence from the pyramid theories of both Marx and the psychologyst Maslow and issues of society, humanity as well as economics and pondering where do we all fit in to that grand scheme? A heavy question for a pop-song that you can just get carried away with the bass-line.
“Capri, Cannes & Brighton” (another from Pyramiden) is another journey, this time for enjoyment not work. On this song, Morén ponders holidays and the time it gives us to not only relax and contemplate the simple things in life but also think about bigger issues such as cultural change and the environment. Once again Peter has created a pop song that lyrically tackles both light and dark themes. Through his reference-filled songs, Morén feels it’s important to mix the uplifting and happy sentiments with melancholy and sad thoughts and that all great pop-music should have a mix of both. In addition, the music on “Capri, Cannes & Brighton” reflects the joyful bliss of sitting on a sundrenched terrace with a splendid view while experiencing the saddness that comes with the knowledge that the moment is fleeting. Flutes, harps and strings almost make it baroque-pop, a very underrated little sister to the soft-rock that Peter has an ongoing love-affair with. Morén felt he best expressed himself about all of this when writing in Swedish, but “Capri, Cannes & Brighton,” maybe more then any other song, proved he could accomplish that in English too. Even if it may be broken and slightly Swenglish!