The Sound Of Arrows - Voyage
With Pet Shop Boys and Erasure probably adding zimmer frames to their concert riders, and the Music Fix massive largely unconvinced by Hurts, the stage door remains open for some new names to come forward and lay claim to the male-fronted, electro pop crown.
Swedes Stefan Storm and Oskar Gullstrand, aka Sound Of Arrows, certainly have the components in place, understanding that this stuff often plays best with good pinches of understated melancholy and cool European distance; you only need to hear the single 'Wonders' to know that they get it. 'Magic', complete with kids' chorus - they even spell out the title, for God's sake! - is a cheeky tribute to mid-paced 80s cheese; 'Ruins Of Rome' (title of the year, right there) would, in another time, have had a video of Neil Tennant cautiously riding a scooter round the Trevi fountain. The well-worn keys of Jarre and Vangelis are all over Voyage, the reliance on analogue gear giving things a pleasingly warm, familiar feel but not one that seems particularly dated. The head says there's something rather silly about Sound Of Arrows; your heart and feet will say something different. 'There Is Still Hope' they say. Put your hands in the air: the Swedish may yet save us from mediocrity.