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Monday, March 12, 2007

Sebastian - The Vintage Virgin
Release Date: March 7, 2007
Label: RCA

Sebastian Karlsson was a contestant in Sweden's 2005 Idol show, and last year's self-titled debut showed little difference to any other Idol-related releases. Despite a few promising (and self-penned) tunes, a large chunk of space was devoted to tired covers and pedestrian pop songs. It's great news, then, that his new offering, the cover-free The Vintage Virgin, practically brims with accomplished pop/rock.

Troubled Skies opens the record with a great singalong chorus, and the rest of Virgin follows suit. This is music for fast consumption: one listen and you'll be humming along. Luckily, though, it does not become tiresome. The songs, even with their glossy finish, have an organic, lazy feeling to them. Jolts of piano and gospel influences help as well. Words And Violence, the lead single, is the strongest track. Beginning as a ballad, it quickly chugs along until it reaches almost rapturous highs. Similarly, Trigger, with its Razorlight-esque beat and subtle use of a backing choir may just be the album's most propulsive moment. The gentle Falling In Love With You Again and Karlsson's Melodifestivalen entry, When The Night Comes Falling, are also highlights.

Most notably (and unlike his debut), The Vintage Virgin is a perfectly paced pop record. It is not particularly revolutionary. There are the ballads, the rockers, the singalongs, etc. Standard fare for the teen crowd, yet I wouldn't be surprised if Virgin reaches beyond (and matures) Sebastian's core fan base. It is a record absolutely full of potential singles, and most certainly a step in the direction to give Sebastian a career past the initial Idol glow. A-

Key Tracks: Words & Violence, Falling In Love With You Again, Trigger


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