Call him what you like – ex-boyband member, Swedish pop prince, or indeed “Manboy” – one thing that could always be said about (the annoyingly only 20 years old) Eric Saade is that he blew most viewers away at the 2010 Melodifestivalen as he grabbed 3rd place. He followed up this new-found recognition with his debut solo album Masquerade, an album that one could describe as a pure pop delight.
The opening track Masquerade has a dynamic intro that grabs you by the ears and drags you in to the world of Saade. Its full of glorious strings and drums, and highlights the best feature of this album, the incredible ability to deliver catchy uptempo pop. This is built upon through the next tune Upgrade, a slow burner till the chorus when the volume is turned up to 11 and becomes big, bold and above all has you on your feet and dancing.
All the best tracks on this album could be pinpointed as high-energy electro dance; Manboy, Radioactive, Why Do We Need Fashion? (admittedly, a rather silly question from a young man who is so good looking he’d make anything look good on). Catchy hooks, addictive melodies and huge easily-memorable choruses. Even when the album steps back and turns it down a notch with the ocassional, and admittedly, typical boyband ballad, it feels a neccessity. Songs like Break of Dawn are needed to give the listener a much needed and calming break to catch their breath before the next big dance hit.
There are but two faults with this album. Firstly, after the initial listen, the overwhelming feeling I was left with is that this album could have been produced by any good male artist of a similiar vein – I don’t feel like Saade has stamped his personality on this sound, and at times, it felt I was perhaps listening to an album by N-Sync. Looking squarely at the tracks Upgrade and I’ll be Alright, melodically these two tracks feel very familiar; Timberlake circa 2005-2008.
Sweden has produced some fabulous dance-pop in the past decade, similiar in volume to the output created by the likes of Stock Aitken & Waterman back in their heydays of the 1980s. But it can also be said that much of that released does therefore tend to very same-same; formulaic in style, common lyric content, beats and even vocals. It becomes hard to differientiate one song and artist from the other beyond their personalities. If Saade is to stand the test of time therefore, developing his own niche, own sound will become of utmost importance.
The other (but rather small) issue is that Masquerade can veer into the cheesy side of pop at times. The chorus of Manboy demonstrates this issue rather blatantly. But given the age of Saade and most likely who his target audience is, perhaps this is a good thing and certainly shouldn’t act as a deterrant to buy the album. If you are already a fan of the schlager and pop sound, then most likely it can be overlooked, or indeed even add to your enjoyment.
As far as dance records go, Masquerade is well worth a listen. If you like you pop with a bombastic beat, and more than just a little opportunity to throw your hands up in air on the dancefloor, Saade could be your man. Easily memorable choruses such as that of Manboy are abound on this album, and relating it back to our favourite song contest, instant tunes like these are of course made for Eurovision and chart success. The content that lies within won’t change your world, but it certainly should put a smile on your face.
Masquerade, by Eric Saade, is published by Pid, and is available from Amazon as a digital download from Amazon.