The following excerpt was taken from The American Heritage Dictionary: Fourth Edition (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001):
Legend: 1) An unverified popular story, especially one believed to be historical. 2) One of great fame or popular renown. 3) An inscription on an object. 4) An explanatory caption.
There is no telling which definition Johan Angergård chose when he named this group The Legends or even if he had a definition in mind, but he himself can be considered “one of great fame or popular renown” in the world of indie-pop. Also a member of the lovable Acid House Kings, Angergård can also be found alongside Karolina Komstedt in Club 8. Often dubbed “the hardest working man in pop music,” Angergård again brings forth an album that will go down in history as one of the pop greats.
The Legends initially swept the world in 2004 with their fuzzed-out debut Up Against The Legends. With a sound that included so much distortion it seeped into the vocals, drums, and peppy hand-claps, The Legends were sometimes a hard band to catch on. But if you did, you were hooked for life. 2005 saw the group’s second LP Public Radio on Labrador Records, also home of Angergård’s other groups. Additionally, June 27, 2006 marked the release of Public Radio in the United States.
The diversity between Angergård’s groups is an excellent portrayal of exactly why some dub Johan as the hardest working artist in pop music today. However, a similar diversity also exists between both full-length releases by The Legends. A telling tale of how The Legends progressed between Up Against The Legends and Public Radio can be found in the singles the group released between these albums. And in the singles released since that of Public Radio, we can speculate where Angergård is taking the group for the anticipated third album.
Up Against The Legends was an instant classic that produced singles such as There And Back Again and Call It Ours. Within these singles is the altered sound The Legends took for Public Radio. So, prior to Public Radio, Angergård was experimenting with a less distorted, more reverberated sound. “It’s Not Going To Happen” off There And Back Again possesses many of the changes Angergård would make for Public Radio. The drums have a more electronic quality while Angergård feigns his audience with reverb rather than fuzz. Also left behind are many of the poppy twee references such as hand claps (though some of these references reappear in tracks like “Something Good” and “Do You Remember Riley”). The reverb and electronic drums add to a much darker sound apparent in tunes like “Today” and “Hide Away” while complimenting upbeat tracks like “He Knows The Sun” and “Do You Remember Riley.” A third style can be seen in the slower ballad-like tunes (“I Want To Be Like Everybody Else,” “Heaven Will Wait” and “So Much For Tomorrow”) which shine as bright as the singles, utilize the albums signature reverb and electronic qualities, and round out the album with a few down-tempo tracks.
While The Legends’ debut album is one that is difficult to triumph, it is already apparent in Public Radio the success and quality of their sophomore release comes awful close. Three singles have been released featuring songs from the album and a fourth, exclusive single is due to hit the world this month. Within these singles is yet another altered sound. Take away the fuzz and take away the reverb and you will have the stripped down song. Add in peppy techno beats and you’ll find a whole new world created entirely by The Legends. Whether Angergård will take the group this route for a third full-length is yet to be seen, but for now it is easy to cherish and love Public Radio as the beauty behind each song is enough to die for.
That leads us to the end. A reminiscing of the album and hopes for the future. And it all comes back to a name: The Legends, a name that could easily refer to the future of the group. Pop songs are not unlike legends: each song tells a somewhat unverifiable story—often exaggerated and embellished—and each song is, in many ways, historical. Angergård may have, in choosing a name for his band, unknowingly described how this band will be revered in the years to come.
This review was originally published July 3, 2006 on the old version of FensePost.
Labrador Records [CD, 2005]
2. Hide Away
3. People Like Us
4. You’re Alive
6. He Knows The Sun
7. Something Good
8. I Want To Be Like Everybody Else
9. Heaven Will Wait
10. So Much For Tomorrow
11. These Old Hearts Of Ours
12. Do You Remember Riley?