Roxette is not the new Abba. There are similarities, of course; A frighteningly efficient hitmaking machine, Roxette is Swedish and prone to impossibly catchy melodies. Yet Roxette manages to be different in the way that matters most its music. Unlike Abba, which often sounded like the Beatles with all the blues left out, Roxette makes no such omissions; even Joyride's title tune, though decked out in a glossy, Sgt. Pepper-style arrangement, never comes across as mere candy-coated pop.
Which is no mean achievement, given the group's well-honed commercial instincts. For instance, after the mega-success of "It Must Have Been Love," fans undoubtedly expected more of the same on Joyride; naturally, Roxette doesn't disappoint, but neither does the group limit itself to the obvious. For all the vocal fire-works packed into power ballads like "Spending My Time" or "Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave)," singer Marie Fredriksson shines brightest on quiet numbers like "Watercolours in the Rain," a mournful, reflective song about longing and loss.
Fredriksson gets many of the album's big moments but not all of them. Even though Fredriksson's high-octane performances on "Hotblooded" (not the Foreigner hit) or "(Do You Get) Excited?" are obvious standouts, Per Gessle, the group's chief songwriter, is no slouch either. His light, puckish vocals add a likable touch to wry dance numbers like "Knockin' on Every Door."
Overall, what ultimately defines Joyride are the performances, and that marks perhaps the most important difference between Roxette and Abba. By emphasizing its sense of personality, Roxette delivers more than just well-constructed hooks; this music has heart, something that makes even the catchiest melody more appealing. (RS 607)
(Posted: Jun 27, 1991)
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