I originally stumbled across Acid House Kings in about 2005 after joining the KZUU staff during grad school. At the time, they had just released Sing Along with the Acid House Kings, their 4th studio album. The station had their previous two, back to the band’s sophomore release Advantage Acid House Kings from 1997. That album had already become a bit of a rarity in the US, but I tucked away a digital copy to enjoy in lieu of a physical copy.
Then, in 2012, Labrador Records reissued a number of the band’s early releases on vinyl. I snapped up all three of the reissues: Advantage Acid House Kings (1997), Mondays are Like Tuesdays and Tuesday are Like Wednesdays (2002), and Sing Along with the Acid House Kings (2005).
We’ll look at the first today.
The Early Evolution of the Acid House Kings
The original plan spanned 10 years with one album every five. That’s what brothers Niklas and Johan Angergård and bandmate Joakim Ödlund decided in (or around) 1992 with the release of Acid House Kings’ debut Pop, Look & Listen. Advantage was the second installment of that and it featured guest vocalist Julia Lannerheim on a few songs.
Lannerheim would go on to join the band as an official member with the release of Mondays are Like Tuesdays.
The early work by Acid House Kings was Swedish lo-fi jangle pop and twee pop at its finest, drawing heavy influence from C86 and Sarah Records.
As the band moved away from twee and more into indie pop with that third record, Johan Angergård and fellow Acid House Kings members also merged their Summersound Records imprint with Labrador Records.
Labrador would become the band’s Swedish home, releasing their subsequent albums and singles in their home country starting with the 7-inch EP We Are The Acid House Kings in 2001.
The 2012 Vinyl Reissue
As previously noted, Advantage Acid House Kings was originally released in 1997. As with many of the early works by Acid House Kings, the 1997 releases came through labels in Spain and Japan. These were limited to CDs, but Shelflife Records released the album in the US on CD and vinyl in 1998. Angergard’s Labrador Records would breathe new life into the record upon the release of Mondays are Like Tuesdays in 2002, but it was again limited to CD until the label released it on vinyl ten years later.
I haven’t been able to find much online about the original 1998 Shelflife copy of Advantage, but I would assume it’s easy to decipher between the copies, given the 2012 reissue has a prominent Labrador Records logo on back.
Labrador’s repress was pretty barebones with just the jacket sleeve and record. No inserts and no printed inner sleeve. All the lyrics and credits are on the back. Let’s take a quick look in my unboxing video:
My trio of Acid House Kings records arrived with a notable upper right corner bend and other corner bumps. But I’m not complaining, as I’m just glad I was able to get copies before they sold out.
To this day, it’s still a bit hard to find an inexpensive copy of this album, even on CD. Amazon has a few on CD available (link below), but you’ll likely need to import a copy through sellers on Discogs for vinyl.
A Look at Advantage Acid House Kings
Not many copies of Acid House Kings’ debut record can be found. Pop, Look & Listen exists only as a CD released by Marsh-Marigold Records in Germany. Some songs can be found on an equally hard to find compilation CD from 2000 titled The Sound Of Summer. I have that compilation in my collection, along with a few 7-inch singles from 1992, and they are about as raw and lo-fi as it gets.
So it’s no surprise to read on Wikipedia that “the album proved to be a huge step forward to form their trademark sound of jangly, catchy guitar oriented indie-pop.” The statement is quite true, and the sound would remain for one album before the band would transform again with yet another giant leap forward.
Still, Advantage Acid House Kings was still cemented in the twee sub-genre of indie pop. Thematically, like many twee-centric artists, the songs Acid House Kings wrote at the time were poppy love songs like “Heaven’s Just A Kiss Away” and “Yes! You Love Me”. Twee is apt to make you bounce around happily when you hear it, and you definitely get that with these songs:
That jangle! As I wrapped my grad school days in 2005 and 2006, this was the sound I loved. Upbeat, fun, plenty of hopeless-romantic-finally-finds-love type vibes. There aren’t many songs on the album that aren’t both super upbeat and a wrapped in romanticism. “…But I was Wrong” is a rare exception, taking it down a notch while remaining lo-fi and retaining a hint of jangle.
Here’s “Yes! You Love Me”, another album favorite:
To give you a taste of where Lannerheim steps in as guest vocalist, listen to “First Time” below:
The subsequent albums by Acid House Kings took a slightly different approach to indie pop, and I tend to favor those these days. But revisiting Advantage is always fun. It’s like falling in love again and slipping into all the good parts of that new relationship energy. It makes you happy. It makes you want to frolic at a park on a warm spring day. I picture it vividly every time I drop this record onto my turntable; I can almost feel a cool breeze on my skin.