Who would dare tamper with Beyoncé’s Grammy-winning power ballad? Eric Berglund (a.k.a. ceo), that’s who. And his cover’s stately horns, electric guitar chords, distorted rapping, and earth-quaking beats are more than enough to make Mrs. Jay-Z proud.
The Radio Dept., Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010
These overlooked mopes have been crafting stylish rainy-day sketches for nearly a decade. On this recent compilation of hits and B-sides, they conjure everyone from Pet Shop Boys to New Order and the Strokes.
Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes
A tough cookie with a gooey center, Li’s the modern-day girl-pop template, the sorta chick who can sing about undying devotion one minute and utter the brazen line “I’m your prostitute, you gon’ get some” the next. Cheers, sweetie.
Johan Agebjörn, Casablanca Nights
On his latest project, the Sally Shapiro producer continues his obsession with late-’70s/early-’80s happy-sad Italo-disco, mastering the sound of breathless, heartsick divas dancing till dawn.
Niki & the Dove, “The Fox”
As sly as its title suggests, this mystical, Kate Bush-y single from the duo of Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf sneaks into your psyche and then, with its piercing synths and clanging percussion, attacks.
Jens Lekman, An Argument With Myself
This five-song teaser from Gothenburg’s nuttiest indie troubadour (the follow-up to 2007’s excellent Night Falls Over Kortedala) boasts his token droll storytelling: Highlight “Waiting for Kirsten” is about a tipsy Lekman lusting after Kirsten Dunst outside her hotel.
I Break Horses, Hearts
For their debut album, Stockholm twosome Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck draw on shoegaze pioneers like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine to create reverb-drenched, kaleidoscopic melodies of love and loss.
Ane Brun, “Do You Remember”
Tribal drums, backup chanting from Swedish folkers First Aid Kit, and Brun’s signature bewitching vocals make this one of catchiest singles to emerge from Sweden this year.
The Field, Looping State of Mind
Techno has a (well-earned) rep for being druggy and vapid, but the soulful third album from producer Axel Willner (along with his first two, From Here We Go Sublime and Yesterday and Today) proves that when it’s in nimble hands, the genre can be transportive and dazzling.
Air France, “It Feels Good to Be Around You”
Joel Karlsson and Henrik Markstedt’s moniker is a bit misleading—they ain’t Frenchies. The Gothenburg-based musicians are, however, virtuosos when it comes to concocting beautiful, sun-kissed, steel drum–laced tracks like this one.
Photo: Annika Aschberg