Finally, Dungen return with the follow-up to 2004’s Ta Det Lugnt. A slower burner of an album that seemed to take an age to finally work it’s way into the general conscious, their continual touring schedule seemed to have endeared themselves to the indie massive. Tio Bitar reflects their recent history, a tighter and more focused effort that sees Dungen develop their sound and themes to the next level.
I have to say, for no real reason admittedly, I like albums that start with an “intro”. Tio Bitar’s three minute instrumental Intro is a beautiful distillation of their sound into one concise piece of music. Devoid of anything outrageous, it’s a smooth and polished entrance for the band and a good indication of where the album is going, a kind of Overture if you will. Familj is next with it’s skipping drums and whimsical keyboards that turn and weave through the lyrics and would be the perfect soundtrack to some psychedelic images of twirling and bursting flowers. We’re then treated to the fuzz roundabout of Gor Det Nu with tinkling pianos that sound as though they’re racing a dark and fuzzed up buzz of a guitar through the song, each blast of guitar arrives with a piercing flourish. That’s not to say that they don’t do slower numbers any more, it’s just that Dungen seem to have established and discovered a sound that suits them best. Caroline Visar Vagen is a sweet and beautiful song full of sweeping strings, acoustic guitars and those perfectly punctuated skipping drums only stopped when the organ kicks in and duels, gently, with the flute. The whole record has this great feel to it, a laid back and psychedelic glow that, whilst listening to it, makes you feel as though you’re floating away, drifting on an endlessly calm and perfectly blue river. That’s not to say that it’s boring, it’s not. There’s just real moments on this album where you want to go to wherever Dungen went, you too want to experience what they did. There’s a couple of moments where they do wake you from this trance though. The 70’s stomp of Du Ska Inte Tro Att Det Ordnar Sig is throw away and we’ve heard plenty of this mock-glam stuff so far in 2007. Then there’s the boringly gentle Sa Blev Det Bestamt that feels as though it’d soundtrack a European film’s soft-focus love scene, just not a very interesting one.
Those criticisms aside, this is a fresh and focused return from the Swedish prog-popsters. Definitely more focused that previously, this is an ambitious record without straying too far from what Dungen are good at: progressive rock with a twist of 00’s indie pop. And whilst it’s all over too soon, you’re left wanting more. I think I’ll grow my hair and get a beard you know…