On June 26th, Swedish indie rock vets, The Soundtrack of our Lives will release their seventh, and very likely, final, album, Throw It To The Universe on Yep Roc Records.
“My idea when we started this band,” says Ebbot Lundberg, the singer and guiding light of TSOOL, “was that we were gonna peak around 2012.” He pauses, and roars a huge bellyful of laughter. “Which suddenly is pretty soon!”
After sixteen years, three major record companies, many circumnavigations of the world, critical acclaim, and not just one but two self imposed exiles The Soundtrack of our Lives have certainly done just about it all.
Though, equally, as drummer Fredrik Sandsten drily puts it, “We haven’t split up, we haven’t replaced anyone and no-one’s died.”
Although co-founder Björn Olsson distanced himself from the band post the writing of their debut tour-de-force, Welcome To The Infant Freebase, TSOOL’s first live appearance in the UK in 1996, cemented the band’s place as preeminent creative force, known for invoking everything that was ever great about rock and roll. NME summed it up: “The best post-everything six-piece rock band in the history of the eardrum.”
Now, after all that history TSOOL are hinting that their seventh album could well be their swan song. If that’s the case, Throw It To The Universe would certainly stand as a stellar exit.
“I think it’s the best album we’ve done – and that’s the way we wanted it… go out in a blaze of glory”, suggests Ebbot.
With the world economy in freefall and half the planet at war… again, Throw It To The Universe finds The Soundtrack of our Lives in a suitably reflective mood (by TSOOL standards) and perhaps with the ethos of “less is more.” The new/last album offers just thirteen songs, but each one sees Lundberg as playful as ever. Chops abound with the twin guitar assault of Mattias Bärjed and Ian Person and pianist Martin Hederos maintains his virtuosity. Producer and bassist Kalle Gustafsson-Jerneholm forms a dynamic rhythm section with drummer Fredrik Sandsten, but age and experience have also brought a warm patina to the collective sound on Throw It To The Universe.
Album opener and title track “Throw It To The Universe” is a mission statement, “We are the songs you learn to sing, we are the sound of everything, we’re here to make you feel alive – we are the ones who never die!” Simultaneously it’s self-parody, a witty twist on the very first track ever released by TSOOL, “Firmament Vacation” from the ‘96 EP Homo Habilis Blues.
There’s certainly less hair-flailing these days – “You Are The Beginning” glides gently through a shimmering folk and mellow acoustic melodiousness and is followed by stand out “When We Fall.”
The rhetorical question of “Where’s The Rock?” with its pistols-at-noon guitar tremolo, picks up the pace and “Free Ride” is the sunset that follows. The gentle sway of “Waiting For The Lawnmowers” leads into “Faster Than The Speed of Light” – it stands strong against any number of tracks from the vast TSOOL cannon.
Ebbot’s preoccupation with themes of mass psychosis, global dysfunction and the micro cosmos are all there in “Reality Show” and “Busy Land.” “If Nothing Lasts Forever” showcases the Gothenburg sextet as they pass through 70s urban boogie and a portion of shining blues, but then the pace changes again with the luminescent piano score of “Solar Circus” as it tumbles down from the stratosphere, in a psychedelic river of reverie. With the penultimate “What’s Your Story” there is definitely an air of proceedings drawing to a close.
Amazingly, the aforementioned Olsson returned to contribute to this album, like a benign ghost stepping in to close the circle. It is his presence that looms over “Shine On (There’s Another Day After Tomorrow).”
All told, you wonder, could this really be the final farewell for the Scandi Majesties? Could Ebbot’s prediction of peaking in 2012 be true? Ironically, listening to Throw It To The Universe makes the mind reel at where they’d go next.