Paris, France. Malmo, Sweden. Stockholm, Sweden. York, England. Envelopes, a five-piece consisting of four Swedish guys and one French girl, unite these cities in a little knot of chirpy indie-pop songs. They’ve lived together in these disparate cities, and their music is all the more twisted for it. Goofy moog lines, twinkly guitars (and even some crunchy, noisy ones) and sing-along vocals make the band’s debut, Demon, a cute little hopscotch with Belle and Sebastian, the Violent Femmes, and even a bit of Stereolab.
The album’s fourth track, “Your Fight Is Over,” is a teeny bit Beach Boys, if the Beach Boys were the soundtrack for a nursery school for lovelorn hipsters. “Sister in Love” has one of those choruses that I can’t help singing along to and smiling. When the band rhymes the name Leonard with the word leotard in “Isabelle and Leonard,” about a couple who loves dressing up in ballet outfits, it’s adorable. And Audrey Pic and Henrik Orrling’s charming duet on the Big Star-tinged “Massmouvement” gives a grinning hug to Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra’s “Some Velvet Morning.”
Which is to say this: The album is called Demon, but there’s nothing demonic about it. This is a summer pop albums, all sunny days and dripping Popsicles from the ice cream truck. It’s a sugary sweet twist of irony that in Swedish “demon” actually translates to “demos,” which is what this record essentially comprises, albeit very accomplished ones.
Recorded in rural Yorkshire amidst the moors and farms, the members of Envelopes have crafted a quirky pop record that shakes its pigtails and snaps its bubble gum while rocking out to Sesame Street. Demon is innocent in the same way your little sister is when she sneaks vodka out of your parents’ liquor cabinet when they leave and you both giggle as you fill up the missing liquor with water. The music is cutesy and fun, but the lyrics are subversive. It’s like revisiting childhood without being childish.