Don’t Bore Us, Get To The Chorus!, by Roxette
Suggested by Sara-Jane Davies (Guilty Pleasure)
Full disclosure: this ain’t my first Joyride.
Roxette are one of my wife’s favourite bands. She was sat opposite me as I randomised the albums, and when I declared this gem she actually punched the air.
The historic musical map of Chez Stevenson has largely been replete with continents of Sarah Songs, which I’d define as Nineties female-led pop acts, sultry murdercore covers of classic hits, and a smattering of Guns N’ Roses. I’d generally acquiesce to her musical whims, as her sounds are lush and rolling plains, while mine are akin to the cartographer’s shorthand of Here Be Monsters.
I know most of the hits, of course, as I suppose you do too. Everyone knows this Swedish guitar-keyboard pop-rock duo, right? If you don’t, you’re likely riddled with hipsterism or legitimately eleven. They’re the second most commercially successful band from Sweden, after IKEA. Sorry… after ABBA.
Let’s look at some of the more famous songs on this Greatest Hits compilation. The Look, Dressed for Success, How Do You Do, Listen to Your Heart, It Must Have Been Love, Joyride, Sleeping in my Car, each a bonefine smash hit, memorable offerings all. In Googling their success, I was rather surprised to learn that Roxette never had a number one hit in the UK. My standout Joyride, a song that went to #1 in every other major chart territory on the planet, only made #4 in the belligerent United Kingdom. Weirdly, this makes me think of Brexit.
Eight hit singles are more than adequate to spawn a Greatest Hits collection, but Roxette don’t stop there. They pack the release to the rafters with lesser hits, making the album at least twenty minutes too long, and even have the gall to put a couple of previously unreleased songs on there, which they then subsequently release as singles. They even start the album with one: June Afternoon. It takes big brass balls to release a new single from your greatest hits album, almost as a declaration of defiance: “you’ve not heard this before, but it will be one of our most popular songs.”
Musically, the songs are mid-tempo and generally upbeat affairs, with crafted structures and tuneful melodies. Marie and Per both sing, with Marie thankfully taking point for most of their barnstormers. The songs on which Per’s vocal is centre stage are among the weaker numbers, as his voice has a strange performative quality which I could happily do without. It’s like giving lead vocal duties to the bloke in Aqua who says “come on Barbie, let’s go party”. Why go there when there are better options?
I find Roxette comfortable, and assured… and rather dull. Their songs are well crafted, but pretty basic, and unlikely to hold my attention for very long. I know a lot of them, sure, but that’s through osmosis rather than genuine affection. But they do have that burrowing earworm quality, so songwriter Per Gessle did something right.
After careful deliberation, I’ve landed at 6/10 for this compilation. I feel that’s a tad generous, but there’s no denying that their hits are catchy. Whatever my score, this is one album I’ll be sure to hear again, as my wife will fire it up once I relinquish control of Alexa in September 2021.