Swedish chanteuse El Perro Del Mar (aka Sarah Assbring) took the Mercury Lounge stage last night with three dapper dudes, each seated and skinny-suited. She preferred standing, though, mostly with an acoustic around her neck and occasionally toe-tapping a tamborine placed foot-side, often the only percussion for her delicate, strummed sadness. Tough slot–rainy night and incongruously placed on a bill with buzz-bands Evangelicals (whom we love) and Annuals (ditto)– but there was no question whom the packed Lounge was there to see during her set.
The hypnotic El Perro Del Mar — a collection including previous singles, released this year in the States — is heavy on the heavy-hearted, using repeated lyrics, wafting background harmonies, and subtle instrumentation to let you know: She ain’t doing too well! On stage, that translated into sincere expressions, with furled brow and sad-puppy stare. Even Sarah’s sagging, swinging shoulders got in on the act! She is at one with her despondence.
But none of that is to downplay her Motown sounds, which inspired shimmying (shimmying!) among the gals front and center. “I Can’t Talk About It” and “God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)” are what happens when a Swede spends a lot of time with her Smokey Robinson and Supremes records. Between the sad and the shimmy, everything about El Perro Del Mar clicks. Here a taste of her Sixties-girl-group-by-way-of-Scandinavia mania:
The set was her last on American soil for a spell, and the Mercury folks were good enough to let her come back for an encore. Good thing, too! El Perro’s dreamy take on VU’s “I Found A Reason” sent us home with a melancholic smile — and plenty Loaded.
04. “I Can’t Talk About It”
05. “This Loneliness”
07. “God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)”
08. “Hello Goodbye”
09. “I Found A Reason”