In a Nutshell
Coming close at the heels of last year's excellent indictment of modern life Everything. Now!, In a Nutshell sees Sweden's Pelle Carlberg keeping his acerbic wit sharp but focused on more personal issues this go around. Failure, redemption and alienation play a large part of Carlberg's lyric compositions. On "Pamplona," the disc's opening shot, he ends his invective toward someone who's called him a coward and a sissy with "I'm gonna tell you what a bull smells like/ I'm gonna tell you that you're full of shite." Far from emulating Stevie Wonder's affectionate declaration of the same name, "I Just Called to Say I Love You" trades in the venom for self-deprecation. Over a bouncy acoustic guitar strum Carlberg quietly asserts, "if I ever get happy my songs will start to suck/ but if I ever get happy I won't give a fuck." Later on the doo-wop inflected "I Touched You at the Sound Check," he cops a lyric from The Smiths' "Paint a Vulgar Picture" to relate his starstruck meeting with Smiths' drummer Mike Joyce at a gig in Denmark. The album's lead single -- the coy duet "I Love You, You Imbecile" -- is also one of its few bright moments. Carlberg and guest vocalist Ida Maria trade playful jibes and insults throughout but end up happy and devoted to each other. It's difficult to say if In a Nutshell surpasses Carlberg's quality back catalog, but, at the very least, it lives up to the promises put forth by its predecessors and that alone means this album eclipses the majority of indie pop music released this year.