I am a victim of Swedish fever and have been infected for the last three years. It all started when I first saw the (International) Noise Conspiracy’s video for “Reproduction of Death” in early 2001. I later experienced the same orgasmic excitement upon exposure to the Hives, Division of Laura Lee, old Refused and Sahara Hotnights. Sadly, many of the punk bands that became popular between 2000 and 2002 have watched their careers slowly wane, but there are still a few groups that hail from the land of IKEA that are attempting to jump on the bandwagon. The only problem is that these particular groups are more pop-oriented than their predecessors. Because they are a bit late in the trend, they are more likely to be judged on musical ability than on the novelty of being Swedish.
Despite forming nearly 14 years ago, Chester Copperpot is one of these bands. Unfortunately for them, The Kings of Kirby (also their original band name) offers their biggest chance of success in America. The band’s bio, listed on Popkid’s UK Web site, claims that the group initially formed in 1990 “to have something to do whilst drinking beer.” And it shows. In fact, it seems as though the trio has swigged quite a few in its day, judging from song titles such as “I Never Dreamed I’d Mow Lawns for a Living,” “Let’s Make Out,” and the impossibly sober-sounding “Sorry I Bit You.”
The album is quite poppy — not in the “I’m a boy-band member as old as your mom but I’ll pretend I’m 16” sort of way, but in the “Weezer circa 2001, unfortunate attempt to appeal to the mainstream” sort of way. The comparison to Weezer is quite fascinating; Chester Copperpot suffers from the same complex that Weezer experienced early in their career (and returned to with Maladroit). The music itself has the potential to be fun, but singer Frederik Karlsson appears tone deaf in the same way that Rivers Cuomo occasionally does. Singing a bit too loudly for the sake of being heard, regardless of appropriate key? Yes, I think so!
There are a few redeeming qualities in this record, though, particularly in the lyrics, which could potentially give Kings of Kirby status as a great album to sing along to while under the influence. “My Parent’s Fridge” involves these lines of great depth: “Last Christmas / I was making me a sandwich with some mayo / that had expired from sitting out / four or five years ago … my father … he laughed like ‘ho ho ho.’ ”
But wait, there’s a bonus prize! Fifteenth track “Where Are You?” finds singer Fredrik Karlsson crying out, “Yoo hoo, where are you?” in an excruciatingly thick Swedish accent! Does it get any better? In a mediocre way, yes. “No Wonder” begins as a promising lounge escapade before evolving into another pop-rock drag-along that ends with a dialogue describing the band as “emo-core” in a familiar Swedish drawl.
There are two radio-worthy songs on this album. The first, “I Care and Think About You Every Night, I Swear,” invites you to “join us where we’re aaaaaaaaat.” The second is the ’60s-garage rock-inspired “Life Has Played a Cruel Joke on Me,” which is decent but recalls those other ’60s-garage rock-inspired Swedish bands who’ve seen a regrettable drop in popularity. If you buy albums based on novelty appeal, Chester Copperpot is the band for you. However, I recommend waiting until The Kings of Kirby lands in the 99-cent bin at your local used record store. Don’t worry — that day will come.