Johan Baeckström – Like Before (CD Album – Progress Productions)

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Genre/Influences: Synth-pop.

Content: We last year welcomed the comeback of Daily Planet and their first album in 14 years. Johan Baeckström is the leading force behind Daily Planet and who took me by surprise releasing his first solo-album.

“Like Before” sounds quite Daily Planet-like, but I have to say that this album is definitely better. The main sources of inspiration are very 80s like and you immediately will get some famous synth-pop pioneers in mind. Just like Daily Planet I notice a real strong Erasure influence coming through. There’s a similar vintage electro-pop style joined by the magic timbre of voice of Baeckström. This artist is a talented singer who adds a real emotional touch to his vocals, and he also is a genius musician.

Don’t expect any kind of innovation, but just outstanding old-school synth-pop music. The vintage approach was made by deep sounding bass lines and a kind of ‘happy’ pop music carried by delicious leads and catchy tunes. The songs are driven by danceable kicks and retro-like snares. The multiple leads running through this work will for sure remind you of the work of Vince Clark. There’s a similar sound formula although I’m not saying that Baeckström has a similar genius mind as Vince Clark.

The work reveals 11 songs featuring multiple essential cuts. The opening part will take you by surprise exposing 3 terrific cuts of synth-pop music. I especially like “Come With Me”, which also reminds me of early 90s electronics. The song is accomplished by multiple sound details and irresistible danceable vibes.

“Like Before” also contains a few quieter and somewhat melancholic pieces, but the main menu consists of well-crafted dance-pop music. “Forever And A Day” is one of these great songs carried by a solid lead. “Saturdays In Silesia” originally released by Rational Youth has been perfectly covered becoming one of the biggest potential hits. It sounds a bit harder and club-like, but I especially like the somewhat modern approach of the 80s inspiration.

The final part is worthy of examination as well. I like “One List Time” for its rather quiet and somewhat cinematographic approach. This song adds some diversity to the tracklist. Next comes “Tonight”, which will appeal to lovers of early OMD while the title song of this CD is a real beautiful apotheosis on which I had this ‘woaw’ feeling.

Conclusion: 2015 appears to be a great vintage for brilliant synth-pop releases, but Johan Baeckström’s “Like Before” definitely deserves a nomination for the golden award in his category.

Best songs: “Saturdays In Silesia”, “Come With Me”, “Forever And A Day”, “Like Before”, “Starlights”, “Great Unknown”.

Rate: (DP:9)DP.


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