As we mentioned, when discussing the demos at Peter Morén’s MySpace, he sounds a tad sad without Bjorn and John. He also sounds wordy. And like Wham!. And Robyn Hitchcock (especially Eye). Recorded over two years, Morén’s first solo album The Last Tycoon is an understated effort — mostly the man alone with his guitar with some handclaps (ok, a ton), strings, vibes, synthesizers, piano, bedroom percussion, drum machine, vibraphone, harmonica, and a singing saw (see “Missing Link”). A wooden noisemaker adds a Latin flamenco flair to “Twisted” and its well heed words of advice: “Don’t overrate yourself / it could have been someone else.” True enough. The accents and different sonic textures add to the variety, but the focus is largely Morén’s words and his elliptical storytelling. Listen closely — the lyrics often don’t add up to more than skeletal outlines for the shortest of stories, though there are enough charming details, smart lines. It’s a different sort of narrative … insert Writer’s Block joke here.
If you play close attention to Peter’s goings on, you’ve already heard some of these. “Twisted,” “My Match,” and “Reel To Real” — showed up on P’s MySpace as the aforementioned demos. They’re also a few of the highlights, especially the downcast, but expansively romantic “My Match.” Then there’s “Le Petit Coeur,” with strings the demo didn’t have … and as anyone who saw Morén’s set at Volume yesterday will know, the strings do make a difference. Other highlights are the the Beatles-y “Old Love,” which starts off muted, like it was recorded over a wire: “It’s been so long, I thought all that I’d been living for was gone.” Come to think of it, there are lots of love songs. And out-of-love songs.
It’s good to see the dudes behind “Young Folks” expanding and diversifying. John’s doing his session playing and Bjorn’s remixing/producing the likes of the Shout Out Louds, Taken By Trees, and Lykke Li. And Peter has these great little big songs. They might not change the world, but they’ll definitely tug on a few heart strings and lodge some lovely melodies in your head.
Note: We should mention, in the spirit of full-disclosure, that Morén did play our SXSW party. Of course, we wouldn’t of asked him to play if his album sucked.
The Last Tycoon is out 4/8 on Quarterstick.