Year 3, Day 8: Mando Diao – Aelita
- Black Saturday
- Money Doesn’t Make You A Man
- Sweet Wet Dreams
- If I Don’t Have You
- Lonely Driver
- Make You Mine
About the Album
Aelita (or Ælita) is the seventh studio album from Swedish rockers, Mando Diao. The album was released in late April/early May of 2014. The album’s name, Aelita, is the name of titular Russian synthesizer that plays throughout the album. The album, was seemingly a smash hit, as it instantly rose to the top of the Swedish charts.
Thoughts on the Album
Where to begin with this one. Where to begin. First off, I love this band, I really do. The music from these five Swedes have gotten me through some incredibly rough times. This album marks a departure for the band as they experiment with new sounds and style. It’s not just dripping their toes in and testing the water, they do a full cannonball into the deep end. Which I absolutely love.
The name of the album, Aelita, comes from the name of a Russian Synthesizer, known as Aelita, Queen of Synthesizers. However, Aelita is seen prior to this as the name of titular character from Aleksey Tolstoy’s dystopian science fiction novel, Aelita (known also as: Aelita, or The Decline of Mars).
So with that bit of background on the name of the album, let’s dive right in. As I stated earlier, the album marks a departure for the band as they experiment with a more 1980’s style of new wave/synthpop/electro-rock. It is an eclectic mix of their old style and sound, and new style and sound.
The album opens with might just be one of my favorite Mando Diao songs ever; the album’s first single, Black Saturday. The song opens with a chugging synth riff that seconds later, the main guitar riff and bassline meld together. It is Gustaf Norén’s guttural and deep voice that bellows out. The song is a terrifically paced one too as once it starts, it doesn’t stop and builds up until the keytar solo. Yes. I said keytar. Black Saturday features a two-plus minute long keytar solo during the outro. That solo during live performances of the song, turns into a dueling keytar and guitar solo between guitarist and singer, Björn Dixgård and keyboardist Daniel Haglund. It’s a fantastic song to dance and air band along to (seriously, a keytar solo? who wouldn’t want to airband that one?!). Think Dance with Somebody from their previous (English) album release, Give Me Fire!
With exception to Money Doesn’t Make You A Man and Sweet Wet Dreams, the rest of the tracks are, to me, a mixed bag. For example, I love the track Lonely Driver. It sounds like A Flock of Seagulls, (I Ran) So Far Away or Cutting Crew‘s (I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight. But the track sounds unfinished; it doesn’t end abruptly or anything like that. It just felt like there could have been another two or maybe three verses instead of just a five minute long bass solo to end. But nevertheless, I still love it.
Along with Black Saturday, Money Doesn’t Make You A Man, and Sweet Wet Dreams complete a trilogy. Money Doesn’t Make You A Man is probably another hit from the album. Featuring an icy synth line and guitar riff, the song features a lead of Norén on vocals with Dixgård on backing. But it is more like both share the microphone at the same time. The live version of Money Doesn’t Make You A Man features the band band’s familiar (and trademark) dual-guitar riffs, culminating with a give-and-take guitar solo outro.
Sweet Wet Dreams on the other hand is a slower jam. Closer to a ballad that it is a rocker, it features prominently an acoustic guitar riff. And yes, the title of the song is about just that: love, romance, and sex. The bassline for this song is second to none, played on a Electric Upright Bass. Though, I thought that the song could have been supplemented with female backing vocals. But never the less, it holds up.
While Aelita comes with a bit of culture shock that may drive away the more casual Mando Diao fan, with a bit of
tolerance, no, open-mindness and patience, one will come to love this album as I did. It is different, but different doesn’t always mean “bad” or “terrible”. And of course, if a band stays too long in specific style, they become endangered of becoming their own cover band of themselves. Where Aelita lacks in, in-your-face/screaming guitars and edgy rock, it more than makes for in artistry and replayability. The album certainly doesn’t lack in style.
While I got a feeling of “style over content” with Aelita; it is alright. It’s alright mainly because the style is unique enough to make a listen worthwhile. But, of course, as always with such cases there seems to be a feeling like there’s a distance between you as listener and the heart behind the songs. However, with that, it’s pretty safe to say that Aelita is a very successful and interesting dive into a new frontiers for the Swedes, and it still hasn’t quenched my desire to see them live.