God bless the humble handclap. Pop would be bereft without it. But what do you get when you soul-shuffle it with the Wigan Casino, a Phil Spector wig and five mini-skirted Swedes? Whack in a dizzying Hammond organ and you’ve got the kind of sherbet-pop that promises to get all the girls hip-swaying on the dancefloor (because getting girls on the dancefloor is what pop’s all about). Hailing from the Stockholm suburb of Nacka, it’s no surprise this sashaying quintet originate from the land of Abba. What is a surprise is their love affair with both northern soul and ’60s girl groups. Put them together and you have a kaleidoscopic mash-up only the Nordic could attempt to get away with.
Hooking up in 2005, the synth-heavy band lifted their name from Led Zeppelin’s 1973 song ‘Dancing Days’. But that’s where the macho prog-rock allusions end; instead, what we’re promised are blue-skied harmonies coupled with that all-important soul shine. Imagine a DIY cross between The Shangri-Las and Blondie coupled with that vital northern (up) beat. At least, that’s the tagline…As the percussive drumming rains down (not unlike The Stone Roses’ ‘Elephant Stone’) on ‘Falling In Fall’ and the jingle-melody kicks in on ‘I Know Where You Live’, these Swedes seem to have pulled off the unthinkable: a good Pipettes record with just a hint of Vampire Weekend, which ain’t a bad thing. But here’s the rub: anyone expecting any depth beneath the finger-clicks will be lamenting deep into their brogues. While this succeeds in copying the backcombed melodies of The Ronettes and The Shirelles, six tracks in and, frustratingly, replication seems to be where these girls are at. The retro blueprint hems in where this debut album can go and what Those Dancing Days lack is the simplicity of a classic hit. Without it, ‘In Our Space Hero Suits’ often falls victim to repetitive paisley wallpaper tracks that never seem to vary in tempo.
While their rose-cheeked enthusiasm for harmonising is infectious, and drummer/Duracell bunny Cissi Efraimsson injects the album with relentlessly rhythmic energy (such as on standout track ‘Those Dancing Days’), the truth is a little hard to swerve. This may well get those girls on the dancefloor but it crucially lacks the subtle depth to give it that all-important soul.