Sweden’s The Late Call is making music that you might soon hear in TV promos for medical dramas and trailers for romantic comedies. I probably should talk, rather, about the cover of two old-fashioned ship silhouettes bending slightly yet peacefully on rough waves over a muted yellow matte background. But any sort of aesthetic plea to you is now lost because what I just wrote is probably signaling huge warning lights in your head as you try to turn on something, anything, to stop the voice of James Blunt, or, fuck now even I’m having this problem, Five for Fighting from dropping the hammers of Satan’s own cursed piano on your skull. That’s nasty, nasty company. Horrible company. So I apologize about bringing it up. The Late Call is much more comparable to hundreds of nameless, forgettable acoustic ‘folk’ acts that play to a saddened, hunched over Ben Stiller or Hugh Grant walking down the streets of New York after their madcap, morally questionable scheme to get some vapid, inhumanly pretty whatshername to love them (also, when they inexplicably win back whatshername and they walk together on selfsame street as a crane shot pulls up). Further, I’m pretty sure you’ll be hearing The Late Call at the forcibly bittersweet epilogues of “Criminal Minds” or “Without a Trace” or “Cold Case” or “Traces of Criminal Cases”, or what have you. Or maybe not. You might come across The Late Call in some sort of nice, jazz-club like bar (which I guess I’m having a bit a of a daydream about). In any event, you’ll be someplace where you won’t be expecting to encounter music for you refined tastes, and you might further find yourself thinking “Hey this is some good music that doesn’t make me want to claw my eyes out or revolt against all traditional, normalized, accepted ways of playing music by taking a shit on this table/television/public area”.
I mean sort of like The Late Call’s “Leaving Notes”, OK, I just straight-up like “Leaving Notes”, quite a bit, with its opener evoking the rhythmic vocal and guitar traits of Jose Gonzalez, followed by a track that sounds eerily like it’s from a Jon Brion soundtrack. There’s a lot of other nice lounging, baroque-pop influences, Colin Blunstone even. And these are good things. You see, Leaving Notes is a good album, a smart album. Yes it is wonderfully recorded, clean-sounding, safe, the complete opposite of experimental. But it is also well-composed, pretty, and enjoyable instead of (like a lot of that TV music) annoying, over-wrought, or false in attempt to be heart-felt. It’s sweet, sort of forgettable, but whatever. I’m recovering from a weekend in bed with a head cold watching all the “Return of The King” DVD extras of people building Orc armor, and I could use some kind of gentle, lullaby-like comfort to compliment the taste of Ricola. A Swedish singer-songwriter like Johannes Mayer (please, not the Swedish equivalent of what it sounds like), with his elegant yearning and soft finger-picking and orchestral backing band is sort of the perfect remedy. This is genuinely pretty, impossible to dislike music, especially if you’re in the mood for something calming but not ambient. It also has almost nothing to do with the modus operandi of Digitalis, but I feel like there are small (maybe even large) spaces for music like this—just as there is for the say, anything from the Dave Bruebeck Quartet to The Dave Clark 5, from Simon & Garfunkel to Elliott Smith—to play, say, around company (especially because they got scared off when the first thing they saw in your collection were all those Acid Mother’s Temple albums). I mean you probably still listen to your Jonathan Richmond albums, too, or whatever you listened to as a youth and still maybe secretly adore, so don’t frown at me. 7/10 -- John Ganiard (1 July, 2009)