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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Petter & the Pix – Good As Gold – Album Review

(Mostly) Swedish group's second album arrives, a delightfully eclectic folk jumble of instruments and influences

Written by Ian Steadman

Hello mother nature, nurse rx H&M calling…. 

Answering to the needs of so many already environmentally conscious shoppers, website like this and those of mother nature, H&M are making their attempt to join the eco-friendly race and making sure we all know about it. A multitude of high street brands have approached the environmentally-friendly route but some with little success. What the average High Street consumer normally gets are increased prices, due to the new fabrics the brand has to source, and the design lacking in quality and variety compared with it’s non eco-friendly competitors. Sometimes the obstacle of incorporating unharmful dyeing techniques isn’t always cost effective enough.  

Luckily none of this is evident in H&M’s new The Garden Collection available from the 25th March 2010. Exhilarating Summer brights boost the collection with everything you could want from a high street Spring/Summer collection. This is an exciting step for one of the most predominate and successful brands on our High Streets, and those around the world. For H&M the beginning of eco-friendly clothing didn’t start here – they’ve been using organic cotton in some of their clothing since 2004 and have invested much time and money into finding and developing fabrics which are sustainable. It’s only now that they’re shouting about it, and for good reason.

The amount of attention inputted in style, texture and colour seems to be delicately balanced between every piece in the collection. There’s also a good varied range of clothing styles, making it accessible to a variety of ages and body shapes. It’s safe to say the collection has a very floral, feminine theme, running from bright and extravagant, to subtle and elegant; draping, flowing and layering create a variety of textures and shapes on the body, complimenting the female form. Best of all – the price points for this collection are no different to those of the rest of H&M – cost effective and guilt free, exactly how fashion should be!

One of the most noticeable pieces in the collection has to be a red strapless dress, sold out in most stores already, beautifully adorned with recycled polyester chiffon roses, with a fitted elegant bodice, romantic and playful in design. 

Excitingly to see is the use of the new fabric Tencel, hyped up by the press to be the next best thing in the development of mother nature friendly fabrics. It is beautiful to the touch and I predict it will be a favourite addition to many wardrobes from now on; it blends the gaps nicely between the recycled polyester, organic cotton, and linen in the collection. 

It’s always great to hear of a brand continuing to mould themselves into the eco-friendly world of fashion, and hopefully this is the start of something continuous and an idea which will be planted in the minds of the suits of the fashion world. So lets start showing these brands that what we want is fashion with a conscience, all of the time, and that if they want our hard-earned pennies then they need to earn them by working hard to make our home a better place to live.

I’ve just opened my window, sick for the first time since the autumn. I had to deal with some cobwebs, this some stiffness in the joints, but the fresh air has been a welcome change from the stuffiness of the past few months. It was beginning to feel like Das Boot in here. It was somewhere around the third track of Petter & the Pix’s second album, Good As Gold, that the urge to open the window for some spring relief kicked in – ‘Sit Down With Me’, the song in question, is a woozy daydream finger-pickin’ song, exactly what I needed to cause me to pause, to look up from my computer to the brilliant blue sky that’s currently hugging the ground around where I live.

The band is mostly Swedish, although the ‘Petter’ of Petter & the Pix used to be a member of Iceland’s first (and presumably still the only) reggae band, Hjálmar. His brother, Pontus, is half of the songwriting duo known as Bloodshy & Avant, most infamous for writing the Britney Spears hit ‘Toxic’ (I almost wrote ‘comeback single’ here – at the time it felt like something of one, but in retrospect it seems to have been a slight pause before the steep fall…). This album is neither pop nor reggae – it’s a varied and eclectic bunch of musical styles thrown together by an extremely talented bunch of people (‘the Pix’ are six fellow musicians, some of whom are members of other Scandinavian groups such as Lykke Li and Múm) that nevertheless manages to stake out its own distinct sound. Petter’s vocals are the archetype Nordic drawl, that affectation and elongation that, to a native English speaker, sounds like someone who’s given up. It gives Swedish pop that weirdly moving, pleading tone that makes groups like Peter, Bjorn & John and The Concretes so intriguing to those of us not used to the accent.

It’s no surprise, then, from my perspective, that this album is lyrically quite downbeat. Lots of songs about being alone, a bunch of stuff about Petter resigning himself to defeat, a whole lot of nostalgia for, “the first time you came over.” The real interest to be had here is in the musical ambition on display, though – sometimes the lyrics match the tune’s mood, sometimes they don’t. There will be something here, one song at the very least, that you will love (that’s second track ‘In The End Of The Day’ for me, a post-punk ballad that rests on a 4/4 drum thump and a melancholic descending guitar riff that’s simple, and sweetly effective).

Opener ‘Never Never’, also lead single, is perhaps the poorest song on the whole album. There’s a weird guitar line (or is it just a chanting vocal line that’s been put through some distortion pedal?) that’s straight out of an Aliens track, alternating with a slow-hum chorus with Petter wondering, “I think I was deep in love…/I think I was deep in love…,” over and over again. That vocal/guitar line, whatever it is, is more annoying than catchy by about the third play of the LP, so I’ve started skipping straight to the aforementioned ‘In The End Of The Day’.

This establishes, quite early on, the division between the more straightforward indie tracks on here and the slightly more interesting folk numbers – the title track, an example of the former, but then there’s examples of the latter in the Beirut-alike accordion folk of ‘Before I Do’, and the stripped-back Shins vibe on ‘Momentarily Lost’. Surf rock creeps into ‘Stuck In Between’, and there are definite nods towards The Cure on ‘Four Walls’. It’s all over the place, this, but the somewhat-ethereal production ties everything together. There’s not a lot in common between Paul Simon and electro-rock, but here, somehow, there is. I suppose that’s a credit to the talent of the musicians involved and their overarching vision for their music.

An album like this, then, which at first glance feels perhaps a little bit throwaway, a little bit all over the place, turns out to be nothing of the sort. It’s a grower, and it flowers when given the correct nurturing. Let it unravel, let it flow across your ears on a warm day like today – it’s got a good something at its heart, and bodes well for this semi-supergroup’s work to come.

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