It figures that a Swedish band that borrows equally from psychedelia, prog rock and traditional folk would prove the exception to the rule. Normally, when a band is described as having streamlined its sound with the release of a new album, it’s said in a complimentary fashion. In the case of Tio Bitar, the fourth album from Stockholm natives Dungen, however, it can only be said with an air of faint disappointment.
Among the most exciting qualities of 2004’s Ta Det Lugnt were its frequent forays into fuzz-guitar freak-outs and caterwauling solos — elements largely lacking on this outing. This makes the raw, visceral energy of “Intro” a bittersweet pill to swallow, because it’s only really matched once, during “Mon Amour’s” towering solo. We’re offered glimpses, a not-so-subtle tease now and again, but guitarist Reine Fiske is kept on a relatively short leash that prevents him from noodling off into the sunset. What remains is for the most part a tight, orderly marriage of the pastoral and the psychotropic — plenty precise, but short on soul.