September, 2005:

Splendid Magazine
The Charade

At their best, The Charade craft unforgettable feel-good pop songs. At their worst... you'll forget them. The Swedish pop group steps into the long queue of post-Sundays, post-Carpenters and Belle and Sebastian-esque bands, dishing up run-through-the-fields pop music. Their debut album reveals all the achievements and pitfalls the genre can produce.

If all of The Best lived up to its first track's potential, this review would be written entirely in capital letters. "Monday Morning" opens the disc with one of the cheeriest pop melodies in recent memory. The quick strum and childish piano remind us of Belle and Sebastian, but no finger-pointing comparison could ruin a wonderfully delivered melody like this. Unlike B&S, the cheery music doesn't hide a cynical spin. Rather, co-songwriter Magnus Karlsson's lyrics spin a melancholy love song in which Ingela Matsson can sing "If it was our lifetime savings / I'd flush them down in no time / If it meant a life together / I'd be glad to do that."

Following that spectacular opening, The Charade rely heavily on the aforementioned Belle and Sebastian sound-alike scheme. Their melodies are always airtight, but when they're not reaching for new heights, they're playing to clichés. As the album develops, The Charade move backward in time and begin to employ Ronettes-style drumbeats ("Stories Remain Untold") and even '70s pop structures ("Lying on My Couch").

Mid-album, The Charade sneak in a pleasant early-sixties pop surprise with "When Trouble Comes Our Way", as Matsson's voice takes an endearingly serious tone. "How come we don't give up when trouble comes our way," she asks. At first, Matsson's sugar-sweet voice resembles The Cardigans' Nina Persson, but as the album's melodies develop, Matsson gains a thickness and a cleaner, more sophisticated quality -- more like Ivy's Dominique Durand.

Matsson's husband Mikael rounds out the trio, providing all the keys, bass and programming. It's mostly due to his production that The Best falls short of perfection. The Best is Yet to Come's drums, whether real or programmed, are impotent -- it's up to Ingela, whose increasingly powerful delivery makes the most of the group's killer melodies, to carry the show. If it takes you a few spins to get into the album, that's why.

Charade's Belle and Sebastian influence hasn't gone unnoticed -- and not in a good way. Fortunately, there's something original and substantive behind their derivative exterior: their unabashedly beautiful melodies, adequately nurtured by a well-attuned producer, will turn a lot of heads.
- Wes Holmes

August, 2005:

Left off the Dial
The Charade: The Best Is Yet to Come (Skipping Stones)

We all sold our souls to the charm of Swedish pop years back. It’s just a fact. And there’s no shame in it – not only does Sweden, for some unaccountable reason, inspire sunny pop that’s always familiar, but it’s actually good. In fact, what other country could possibly claim to have cornered the market on fresh, sweet pop like Sweden can? The Charade is no exception. The Best Is Yet to Come is a charming release, even though I know I’ll only be listening to it in the summer.

Magnus Karlsson (of the Happydeadmen – arguably the band that started the Swedish pop revival after ABBA waned), Ingela Matsson and her husband Mikeal Matsson form a trio of 60s, jangly sugar pop that is a true delight from start to finish.

There is nothing new in this formula – which any listener could use to vilify or praise The Charade’s contribution to an ongoing trend. However, this reviewer personally felt better just listening to tracks like “Monday Morning” and “The Saddest Story Ever Told.” The Charade is saved from being too powdered-sugar sweet by lyrics that hurt a bit – “On The Bar” is a good example: “I wish I was prepared to limit my despair…who wants to live forever when time costs money?”

Is it always summer in Sweden? My geography tells me no. But songs this simple, sweet, and heart-lifting are a nice break from the darkness I usually feed myself. There may be forty-eight million Swedish pop bands, but The Charade shines for their accomplished sound, great lyrics, and memories of summer as fall approaches. The Best is Yet to Come is a simple and highly recommended pleasure.
-Lucas Walker

July, 2005:

Indiepages
The Charade - "The Best Is Yet To Come" cd (Skipping Stones)
The Charade is the new project from some of Sweden's finest pop pioneers: Ingela & Mikael Matsson of Red Sleeping Beauty (who were one of the quintessential indiepop bands) and the Shermans, together with Magnus Karlsson, who used to play guitar for the Happydeadmen, the band that pretty much invented Swedish guitar-pop in the late 80s. With credentials like that, it should come as no surprise that this is a perfect sunny pop record. The sound is basically very similar to the Shermans, thanks to the bouncy feel in the songs, the presence of organs and of course Ingela's lovely voice (although there are plenty of times when she duets with Magnus), but the addition of Magnus's guitar melodies really adds a new level to the sound. Every song on this album is just lovely, from the catchy opener "Monday Morning" to the soft Holiday Flyer-ish "Stockholm January 2005" at the end and from the sweet "The Sun Is Gonna Shine On You And Me" to the bittersweet "The Saddest Story Ever Told".

June, 2005:

Delusions of Adequacy
The Charade pre-release
These three songs presage the release of The Charade's full-length The Best is Yet to Come. The trio of musicians live in Sweden, and this release comes to us through Skipping Stones Records out of Connecticut, which begs the question: how do any of us in the States get jobs as music scouts in Sweden? The first song, "Monday Morning," is a chipper track with a hook-y chorus and a brisk beat. You've even got subtle handclaps in your right ear to keep the verses moving apace. Singer Ingela Matsson has a perfect voice for this kind of pop music. This track shows an influence from Belle & Sebastian in its quiet simplicity. Ingela Matsson's husband, keyboardist Mikael Matsson, colors the sound with background notes and chords that you barely even notice until the end of the song, once all other instruments have dropped out. "Nighttime Confession" also has a 60s or early-70s feel to it, right down to the copping from the old Petula Clark hit "Downtown." The airy female vocals and the strummed acoustic guitar invest the song with a summery, carefree attitude, only slightly countered by the nature of the lyrics. "I'm on my own again / My melancholia by my side" and "Would you sympathize / With me when I'm lost / In a sentimental mood" capture a slightly isolated and doubting lyricist seeking reassurance. It's not terribly unusual for poppy-sounding songs to include downcast lyrics, but the Charade uses this approach nicely. "Stories Remain Untold" follows the patterns established in the first two songs: acoustic-guitar chords backing electric-guitar melodies, overlaid with quiet drums and bass, topped off with sweet-sounding vocals. On this track, you can make out a slightly mixed organ in the background, too, and the song's ending gave me a flashback to Felt's Ignite the Seven Cannons. The full album should be available any day, if not already, and it will make a fine accompaniment to any picnics you might be planning this summer. Based on these three songs, I'm guessing that fans of twee (Swedish) pop will have something delightful to put into heavy rotation.

Three Imaginary Girls
The Charade — "The Best Is Yet To Come" {8.6} {Skipping Stones Records}

By imaginary ro.

By now, we're all aware that Sweden breeds great pop bands. The wide-open melodies, the sunny clean guitars, and simple yet elegant arrangements are what have made acts like Aerospace, Jens Lekman, and The Legends so endearing. The Charade does their countrymen proud by following in the perfect pop path paved by The Cardigans and, gasp, ABBA. (I'm sorry, but they are solid songs. And you know it.)

The Charade was formed by former members of Happydeadmen and The Shermans, and maintains the always-popular formula of gorgeous girl vocals and jangly guitars — to great effect. The songs are full of sun and bah bah bah's, bopping along with the windows down and no school tomorrow. But after repeated listenings a vein of melancholy becomes apparent, running just beneath the surface and only showing itself briefly, in a turn of phrase or a bridge. It does a perfect job of cutting the sugar, saving the band from what could possibly become a mouthful of cavities.

The Best Is Yet To Come starts off with "Monday Morning," all hands a-clapping and daring you to not dance around, and keeps things interesting with melody lines you swear you've heard before, even though you haven't. Then, track four, the band takes it's first breath. "Stories Remain Untold," with its lilting, aching verse: a last song at the last chance summer dance, the smell of white cotton and bare feet on warm pavement. Just as you've let the song take you over, and your mind is wandering, thinking back to that one kid you met at camp in the sixth grade — could she have been the one? — it finishes. Instant nostalgia in exactly three minutes. Things you never think to think about, but somehow, the synapses connect. This record is full of moments like that: places that are new but familiar. We used to live here but we don't anymore. You look like someone I used to know.

Not that this should be mislabeled as a one-dimensional, fluffy, feel-good album. The track "The Best is Yet to Come" takes dips into melancholy. For the majority of "The Sun is Going to Shine on You…and Me," lyricist Magnus Karlsson (using vocalist Ingela Mattson's heavenly voice) convinces us that, "A new day will rise and the sun is gonna shine on you and me, the best is yet to come," and then ends the track with the conclusion that, "Sunshine won't reset your mind." In "The Saddest Story Ever Told" Mattson reminds us, "It's a sad one" while instrumentalist/husband Mikael Mattson cooks up an glorious, almost Stereolab-like din behind her.

It's the perfect balance — the savory and the sweet — that makes this record work. And we would expect nothing less from the land of lutefisk and loganberries.

May, 2005:

Pennyblack Music
Charade : The Best Is Yet To Come
It's strange how we never really pay much attention to those things easily within our reach. The chances are that although you might well be unimpressed with the place where you live others will travel there to check out places of interest which you've never bothered with your presence as it's so local it can't be that good. The same goes for music; currently living in Sweden I've been guilty of ignoring for the most part a lot of indie music out here. My once blinkered view that if it didn't come from the U.K. or the U.S.A. was changed forever when I realised that some of the best 'Americana' or alt. Country or whatever it's being called this week was being produced in Scandinavia and in Sweden in particular.

The up side of having those blinkers removed is that suddenly there is a mass of good bands and songs to discover. Unlike all the other writers who have reviewed The Charade's debut album, 'The Best Is Yet To Come', I can't claim to have a detailed knowledge of the band's past achievements. But it appears the trio of husband and wife Ingela (vocals) and Mikael (keyboards and bass) Matsson and Magnus Karlsson have served their time in well-respected indie pop bands like Red Sleeping Beauty, Happydeadmen and The Shermans. After just one play of the trio's debut album I'm going to have to check out their past recordings because this is some of the best jangle indie pop I've heard in years.

Not having any knowledge of a bands past can sometimes be an advantage as I came to this album with no expectations. The flowers on the cover gave some indication that it might fall into the fey indie pop category especially when on reading the credits the main vocals are by a female. And if we're talking genres then indie pop is definitely where this album belongs but it's first class indie pop and dangerously close at this point in time of being the soundtrack to this summer if it ever gets here.

From the opening 'Monday Morning' it's clear that the band have a way with melodies. All the 11 songs are composed by the band, and have a neat line in lyrics. It's a kind of Phil Spector wall of sound made of plaster board (gips if you're in Sweden) rather than solid brick, and that's not a criticism, there's a brightness to the sound the band make, a real summer feel that pulls them apart from the rest of the crowd. It's not a dense sound but a solid, bright, summery collection of songs where the sunshine pop melodies are betrayed at times by the sadness in the lyrics.

While Magnus and Mikael are undoubtedly talented musicians, the playing throughout the album is outstanding and the production by Mikael is not lo-fi like much of this type of shiny pop music the main attraction here is in Ingela's angelic vocals. If like me, you find girlish vocals appealing when combined with pure pop melodies you will find much to treasure here.

This is the first album of sunshine pop with decent lyrics I've heard in a good while, possibly one of the best ever in fact. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why the band have turned out such a strong collection on their first album. Maybe it's a winning combination of those vocals, talented musicians and their winning way with melodies and maybe their previous bands were as good as this but if so, surely they would have been more well known. Maybe it's just that magic that happens when a few like-minded people get together to make music.

Any band that can make a ballad titled 'Stockholm January 2005' sound like the soundtrack to a late evening at the height of summer deserve to be heard. With Magnus taking the vocals along with Ingela (Magnus also handles the vocals on the outstanding 'On The Bar' all jangling guitars and another Charade melody plucked from heaven so it's not all female fronted vocals which adds a nice texture to the album) it's a fine way to end the album.

If you like your indie pop with a little more bite than usual then 'The Best Is Yet To Come' fits the bill nicely, if you just want some summery pop music to blast the cobwebs away and help the sunshine through this collection couldn't come more highly recommended.

Malcolm Carter



Luna Kafé

The Charade The Best Is Yet To Come - Skipping Stones
The Charade is formed by former members of Swedish pop bands Happydeadmen, Red Sleeping Beauty and Shermans. Their bright, shiny pop owes a lot to Sweden's nineties indie scene. The Cardigans early recordings are a good reference point. Ingela Matsson sings in a girlish coo and the band play sugary melodies.
"Night Time Confession" is a jangly delight. Guitarist Magnus Karlsson keeps his playing soft and sweet. "Lying on My Couch" wryly describes skipping work to stay home and relax. Mikael Matsson's organ adds a nice touch. The sixties-aping "When trouble comes our way" is like a long lost girl group classic. Magnus Karlsson sings lead on the melancholy "On the bar" and sounds just fine.
"It's Summer Again" is an aptly titled summery confection of a song. As a soundtrack to summer this record can't be beat.
Anna Maria Stjärnell

Tasty Fanzine
The Charade - The Best is yet to come (Skipping Stones) Aggghhh! I don’t understand why I like this! It’s female fronted fey indie pop. I’m usually screaming at my stereo, and rushing to find a nearby Converge record…..but, no! I’m actually enjoying this. Why? Because this is top notch song writing and the hint of melancholy running throughout saves it from being twee limp-wristed nonsense, and actually makes the whole thing quite pleasurable. Good Stuff!
Drew Millward

Erasing Clouds
The Charade, The Best Is Yet to Come (Skipping Stones Records)
Swedish pop trio The Charade's debut album The Best Is Yet to Come lightly rolls to an open, with a bouncy, gentle song called "Monday Morning" which sounds sunny but has some sweet sadness in its portrait of domestic life. This is the trail blazed by The Shermans over the years – perfectly catchy pop songs with optimistic surfaces and more complicated emotions within. The Charade – which joins the Shermans songwriter/singer couple Mikael and Ingela Matsson with Magnus Karlsson, guitarist for Happydeadmen in the '90s – continues along that same path, to great success. The Charade's sound echoes '50s pop a bit more, and sometimes is slower and more lush than the Shermans' often-streamlined pop…but the effect on listeners is quite similar. Theoretically you'd think this sort of style – the happy/sad duality, the gorgeous pop melodies sung beautifully – would get old, but it certainly doesn’t, when the musicians are as talented as these are. I love hearing a pretty pop song, smiling along to it, and then hearing, and feeling, the real sadness and confusion lurking underneath. The Charade, like the Shermans before them, are masters of this sort of song, one that's at once uplifting and filled with melancholy. - dave heaton

Indiespinzone.com
Charade - "The Best Is Yet To Come" To clue you in right away in case you didn't know, this is the new incarnation of the Shermans, and features the talents of Ingela and Mikael Matsson with Magnus Karlsson. Fans of that band will instantly recognise her voice hich is one of the nicest in the indie world, but the music which accompanies it is now perhaps more settled. The Shermans could wander all over the place (a quality I actually sort of liked) but on this outing it is more musically in step perhaps with fellow Swedish band the Acid House Kings with a light bossa nova air at times, but there are some qualities of the Shermans in there as well. In other words, it's a bit more mature sounding and although it takes chances, it's just not so reckless about it. There is a nice, fresh and breezy sort of quality about this outing I really like. It's one of those albums that's just sheer enjoyment to listen to and the songs are of the type that sound instantly like old friends, and that is not as easy a thing to accomplish as it sounds. This is also an excellent little coup for the new label Skipping Stones. In fact how new labels and bands nobody even knows exist yet find each other to make records is still a mystery to me, but like the gift horse this is, lets not look in it's mouth. And for Shermans die hards I asked and have been told this outing does not mean that band is over, but don't expect a tour for this. As you now read this the "bun" the Matssons were expecting should be out of the oven, and I'm sure we would all like to wish them and their newborn child and album the very, very best. This is due in our Popsicle shop in early June, with an official release date of June 7th, so mark your calendars! This is as pop friendly as music gets, and is sure to be one of the highlights of the summer of 05.

Le Manchester (English translation by Magnus)
The last time I heard from The Charade they were recording new songs, and about the same time the nice record company Skipping Stones sent over a bunch of songs that would be included on "The Best Is Yet To Come." My first impression was more "WOW" than the other one. Surprisingly it seemed as if the nice record company didn't introduce me to the correct part of The Charade album at first. Or, had I just neglected the fact that I've had a very nice record on my desk for weeks without having noticed it. A sweet almost MY FAVORITE-sweet pop is streaming out from the speakers and I can hardly find any bad or unnecessary track. The title track "Monday Morning" has been the favorite… and will be that way in the future even if the same perfection is heard on a number of other tracks.

Dagger Zine
Top Ten CDs for May, 2005
#1: The Charade, “The Best is Yet to Come”

April, 2005
Smother.Net - Editor’s Pick

Swedish massage, Swedish meatballs, Swedish melodic metal, and of course Swedish Absolut vodka. That’s what comes to mind when you drop the name of the country right? Or heck maybe Swedish WMD inspectors that kept telling the world that perhaps Saddam didn’t really have anything more than intent after all. But really we should add bands like The Cardigans and St. Etienne (and yeah even ABBA) to that list shouldn’t we? Well make sure you add The Charade as they pepper us with an assault on pop-rock’s customs and deliver some melodic creeds to what we used to think of as ‘60’s era pop. Well it’s back and with an indie vibe that couldn’t shake the most cynical indie pop scenester. Perhaps the best truly has come from Sweden's pop scene in The Charade?

Common Paper (English translation by Magnus)
The Charade is a new trio, but the members are well known. Wedded couple Ingela and Mikael Mattson from RSB and The Shermans, together with hdm Magnus Karlsson, combine their old roots and give us a taste of what to expect with the new three track promo from record company Skipping Stones. "Monday Morning’" is pure pop magic and the chorus is one of the best I’ve heard so far this year. You can really that we’re dealing with experienced people here, cause it’s jangle-pop perfection many times over. The album "The Best Is Yet To Come" is released on June 7, a date which should be remembered by everyone.

Vanity Project Fanzine
The Charade - The Best Is Yet To Come (Skipping Stones)
A sampler for an LP rather than a single, this is brisk and breezy, capturing strolls on sunny days cut into by bitter cold. Unsurprising then that The Charade hail from Sweden. Sugar sweetness drips from their steady jangle pop, which owes as much to the 60s as to the ubiquitous C80's.
Skif

Dagger Zine
Top Ten CDs for April, 2005 (3 song pre-release)
The Shermans were one of my all-time favorite pop bands so I was tickled pink to find out that Mikael and his wife Ingela from that band are carrying on with a new trio, this one including Magnus Karlsson from Swedish legends happydeadmen. The band mines the same chirpy pop sound as The Shermans but with just-as-good melodies (if you can believe that ) and once again, they top it all off with Ingela’s adorable vocals . The opener "Monday Morning" has "hot song" written all over it but other cuts are just as strong: the moody "On the Bar" and equally moody "The Sun is Gonna Shine on You…and Me" and the pumping "Night Time Confession." I’m glad to see that this sort-of twee pop is still being made and being done so well!

February, 2005
Featured on a Home of the Sampler comp

Hello! Surprise! Guide to Swedish pop music

January, 2005
Martijn Grooten, Think Small, Netherlands

They might have signed to an American label, Monday Morning by The Charade sounds as Swedish as Swedish bands can sound like (including a very Acid House King-ish song title). There are the usual connections with other bands (The Shermans, Red Sleeping Beauty) and the label promises ‘some great news soon’ so you'd better put some money aside for a debut album.

It’s a Trap!
"It's a trap! is devoted to the promotion of Scandinavian music to an international audience."
US-based label Skipping Stones Records has announced that they will be releasing the debut album "The Best is Yet to Come" from Swedish pop act The Charade on June 7. The group features guitarist Magnus Karlsson who also played in Happydeadmen. considered to be one of Sweden's founding indiepop acts back in 1988. More info: http://www.skippingstonesrecords.com/

Trev, Lost Music
The Charade - Monday Morning
The charade are a band I stumbled on after sending a link out on an email list I occasionally take part in. I was asked to check them out.

So being the kind fellow I am. I did. I found a pleasant and accidental Swedish band (read about how they met and recorded their stuff on their website - link below somewhere). their debut release is due in June 2005 - titled - "the Best is Yet to Come."

The track for download 'Monday Morning has a sweet melody. Tuneful guitars in that jangle jangle style and some sweet female vocals. "Monday Morning" can be found by clicking on that link to the rather fab Hello! Surprise! Swedish pop website.

Indiespinzone
"The teaser clip "Monday Morning" from the upcoming debut album from Swedish popsters the Charade remains true to its' members roots (Shermans, Happydeadmen, Red Sleeping Beauty) by crafting really heartfelt winsomeness to pure pop bliss. It's sugar and spice, but now it's all grown up and nice. I expect this will likely be one of this years unexpected gems, and I eagerly await it."