Billie the Vision and the Dancers
Where the Ocean Meets My Hand
ome real talk for you: I think it’s time to chuck Scandinavian teenpop out onto the woodpile. It had its moment, it was fun for a while, but now it's over. What started off as a desperate and needy lunge for sparkles in pop ended up as the music critic equivalent of an uncle grabbing his niece's thigh a few too many times. So we may as well look for other entertainment in North Europe. Thankfully, they have some equally testosterone-free cards up their sleeve. The colonies of tweepop acts they seem to be churning out these days, for one.
Y'all know the name style. Billie the Vision and the Dancers come from the same wordy-yet-badly monikered tradition as bands like Suburban Kids with Biblical Names and I'm from Barcelona. So, yes, there's cuddles and brass and squee and acousticism and hugglez and even if the songs don't have handclaps you add them on in your head anyway. They just invite that noise. BtVatD are a step above your common-or-garden mimsiness, though: there's enough saccharine in here to rot your teeth, but they won't give you heart failure as well.
None of the band are actually called Billie, anyway. Most of the songs are about a guy called Pablo: he's not in the group either. They do have a transvestite and a woman that looks like Jessica Stevenson though, so that's some consolation.
Billie the Vision and the Dancers are a group that 95% of the population will despise. To help you understand why, track four here is called “A Beautiful Night in Oslo.” The lyrics concern a travelogue recounting a fun night on the tiles with the Pipettes (ask your grandparents). A fun night on the town. With. The Pipettes. This is unapologetically cloying, and then later on in the track, just after noting that—of the drinking party—one person is named George, one is Kramer, and one is Elaine, they go on to sing “We're in an episode of ‘Seinfeld’” over and over and over again, in case you thought that those were characters from, say, “Evening Shade.”
Stylus favorite Hello Saferide is onboard as well, and those of you who've followed her career so far know that she does one thing perfectly: warm vocals that combine plaintiveness with pop culture references. Not being one to change horses, she does exactly that on “Overdosing with You” in which she helps detail the joys a person can get from drowning their feelings of romantic despair by watching DVD box sets. “I've been thinking about Mike Delfino and his gun,” trills frontman Lars Lindquists, whilst Saferide, not to be outdone in fragile patheticism, comes back with “I'm looking for someone who'll love me like Will loves Grace.”
“My Love” bounces along with the spring-in-step stylings of a man who has finally gotten over a broken heart, “I've never been in love with her but I love her art,” sings Lindquists, Swedish accent thicker than ärtsoppa, the horns gambolling along as best they can. “There's Hope for Anyone,” meanwhile, is one of the most affecting songs ever sung by a man who writes lyrics about getting drunk with forgotten indie bands of 2006. “Lilly, look at my bank account / I am not gambling any more,” he sings with the resigned desperation of a man who knows what it's like to lose it all on Red 22. Then, as with all of BtVatDs's songs, the horns come along and make everything better.
Reviewed by: Dom Passantino
Reviewed on: 2007-06-05