While playing one of my favorite albums – The Tough Alliance’s A New Chance – over break, I started wondering what the members of the former Swedish electro-pop duo were working at the moment, since splitting up a few years ago. Eric Berglund’s debut album under his ceo moniker, White Magic, was released in 2010, so perhaps he had in something in the works? As it turns out, ceo’s second album, Wonderland, is due out on February 4th via Modular People. It was a nice surprise made better by the availability of opening track “Whorehouse”, which was released as a single the first week of December. Needless to say, Wonderland has quickly become of my most anticipated releases of the year, in addition to Wild Beasts’ new album (also due out next month).
White Magic had some great tracks; the one-two punch of “No Mercy” and “Come With Me” is fantastic. But some tracks didn’t quite have the bite or energy of Tough Alliance efforts. The compositions on White Magic were beautiful and striking, but sometimes lacked the exotic jungle-like soundscapes of The Tough Alliance, which were thrilling but also tranquilly developmental, using a colorful array of synth and samples that – along with the duo’s excitable vocals – captured carefree youth with stunning innovation. “Miami” and “First Class Riot” are good examples.
Back to the first track off ceo’s Wonderland, “Whorehouse” is a thrilling ride akin to the Tough Alliance feel described above. Beginning with a loose flourishing of woodwind bursts, we’re quickly introduced to prickly synths that dance infectiously over various excited vocal samples. It’s like being thrust into a great party after just awakening. Pretty much every aspect works well, from the carnival-like honking to the effervescent choice of synth pads during the chorus. I assume this track, or some safe remix, will see plenty of radio time; it already has a couple hundred-thousand Soundcloud plays anyway. “Whorehouse” is a great entry to ceo and anything Tough Alliance-related, as is the more recently released self-titled track, which you can stream below. There seems to be a liking on the album for odd, child-like sounds. It works in the two tracks so far, at least: