El Perro del Mar | Love Is Not Pop
Most Likely To: get a lot of mileage out of a broken heart.
With its sophisticated sound and high production values, El Perro Del Mar’s third stateside release, Love is Not Pop, adds evidence to the argument that independent music cannot be pigeonholed. El Perro Del Mar is the Spanish moniker chosen by Swedish chanteuse Sarah Assbring. El Perro Del Mar is currently touring with fellow Swedes Peter Bjorn and John, but she has recently also lent her talents to Taken by Trees (a.k.a. ex-Concretes Victoria Bergstrom) and released a record store day 7” split with Lykke Li. She kicked off her career by recording a 7” split with Jens Lekman, which means Assbring has collaborated or toured with pretty much every notable Swedish musician at work today.
El Perro Del Mar’s songs revolve around sultry vocals, which are stretched by light, jazz-inspired melodies (“Change of Heart”) or accented by a meandering bass line and percussive synths (“L is for Love”). Love is Not Pop owes much to Avalon-era Roxy Music (“Heavenly Arms,” “To Have Wept”). Not only is the production on Love is Not Pop flawless and airy throughout, but Assbring also doesn’t shy away from adding unconventional elements such as electronic maracas or the occasional oboe into the mix.
The record shares something else even more enduring with Roxy Music: the hyperbole of the broken heart. Love is Not Pop requires solitude to reach its full effect, so don your headphones and pull the covers over your head. It’s okay to give in to a little melancholy because, even though they aren’t exactly dance-floor ready, the three remixes at the record’s end should still be enough to jump start your sorry self back out of bed.
None of the tracks on Love is Not Pop offer anything as upbeat as “Somebody’s Baby” from 2008’s The Valley to the Stars or as hooky as the ‘60s girl-group melodies that dominated her eponymous stateside debut. Theses differences, however, are subtle; it’s not as if Assbring has undergone a musical sea change in the last eighteen months. El Perro Del Mar isn’t the sort of musical project that is going to morph from psychedelic funk to alt-Country in the span of one record because Assbring has a musical vision that centers around the subtle beauty of love gone wrong. It’s a classic theme, and certainly large enough to keep such a talented singer busy for her entire career.