Don't Be A Stranger: Ho Ho

Ho Ho by Don't Be A Stranger (the name lifted from the infamously bad The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds) finds the Värmland, Sweden sextet offering up an engagingly melodic mix of New Wave and pop on four diverse songs. Though the group's comprised of one-time Fidget and Honey Is Cool and current Hip Whips & Konie and Ebon Tale members, its foremost identifying characteristic is lead vocalist Liv Widell who sings in a style that vaguely recalls The Cardigan's Nina Persson and, in the leapfrogging chorus of “Perfect Problem” especially, Jane Siberry. In addition to that song's lazy swing and a laid-back vocal, the EP features the wistful pop of “Lonely Together” and the bluesy, piano-based “No Surprise.” The release includes memorable moments: an occasional strong hook (“We could be lonely but together / We could be lonely all the time”) plus dramatic tension generated by wobbly synths and brooding guitars in the night-time ballad “Yellow Moon.”

April 2007