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Taken By Trees - Other Worlds

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Artist: Taken By Trees

Album: Other Worlds

Label: Secretly Canadian

Review date: Oct. 11, 2012

Taken by Trees is the electronic pop project of Victoria Bergsman, erstwhile frontwoman for Swedish indie pop outfit The Concretes. Her latest and third release under the Taken by Trees moniker, Other Worlds, confirms that the eastern sounds of its predecessor, East of Eden (which she recorded in Pakistan), were not a total one-off but the beginning of a broader effort to infuse the lightness and sweetness of electronic indie pop with smatterings of world music instrumentation. On her latest batch of songs, as on the Other Worlds album cover, Bergsman superimposes herself onto a woozy, tropical background, evidently self-consciously attempting to channel the aesthetic of Hawaii.

Although Bergsman has settled on another part of the world, her second and third albums are kindred spirits. In contrast to her work with The Concretes, her new material continues to emphasize sustained moods over infectious hooks. That is not to say that Other Worlds is deep. That Bergsman remains firmly rooted in the playful and saccharine suggests that the difference between The Concretes and Taken by Trees is one of degree rather than of kind. Consider, for instance, the not-unrepresentative example of “Only You,” which Bergsman begins by riffing on the familiar vanilla melody of The Cascades’ “Rhythm of the Rain.”

To be sure, swaggering beats, sliding guitars and alternatively clanking and chiming drums abound. They are well integrated enough with each other and Bergsman’s songs that they ultimately constitute more than just a veneer. And occasionally — as on East of Eden’s Animal Collective cover “My Boys” — Bergsman even dabbles in trendier territory than her vibe generally allows.

At their core, however, Bergsman’s pop instincts remain more or less fixed. It’s no surprise that the ever-so-slightly angular synth and syncopated percussion that suggestively open “Dreams” eventually lose all their edge when submerged beneath Sade-smooth arrangements — trappings that seem made to order for only the hippest of Brooklyn’s dentist office waiting rooms. As chill-out music for the vaguely knowing, tracks such as these are hard to beat. Still, Bergsman’s new set pieces offer no more lasting sustenance than the harder to resist but hardly nutritious candies from The Concretes’ confectionery.

By Benjamin Ewing

Other Reviews of Taken By Trees

Open Field

East of Eden

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