”It’s not an overstatement to say that The Refreshments since 1995 has been one of Europe’s most reliable suppliers of high-energy ”rock” and just about equal doses of swinging ”roll”.
By travelling all over their native Sweden to play their music night after night, they’ve developed a rock’n’roll sound that for more than two decades has made a steadily growing audience dance, tap their feet and pump up the volume on their car stereo – sometimes simultaneously.
Unlikely enough, it all started in the 80’s. In a time when synth pop and soft metal ruled the airwaves, some teenagers from Gavle, Sweden, realized that they loved Chuck Berry, Rockpile and classic rock’n’roll more than anything that was on MTV or radio.
In 1989 they decided to do something about it, formed The Refreshments, and with half a million albums sold (of which twelve gold and two platinum), a Grammy nomination and more than 4 000 live shows has deserved the title as Sweden’s hardest and most rootsy rock’n’roll band many times over.
By acting as a backing band for touring British rock legends like Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner, Mickey Jupp, Steve Gibbons, Albert Lee and Geraint Watkins, they’ve also built a reputation as one of the tightest bands in Europe.
Now they’re back with their 13th album with original material (15th, if we count the two Christmas albums with mostly original songs). Seven of the twelve songs are written by the prolific song-writing dynamo Joakim Arnell, who not only is the band’s singer – as the band’s bassist he and drummer Mats Forsberg also makes up the group’s relentlessly grooving rhythm machine.
There’s a subtle variety in Arnell’s songs on the new album. The album opener ”Another Mother” is a classic Refreshments belter in which guitarist Jonas Göransson gets the party started, with energetic rockers like ”Plain Jane” and ”Shootin’ The Breeze” also making Refreshments connoisseurs nod in recognition.
But ”Straight Up” doesn’t just confirm what we already know. Instead, the album offers several surprises where everything from song choices to arrangements makes them sound more inspired than ever.
Who, for example, would have thought that the hippie anthem ”Sylvia’s Mother” by Dr Hook & the Medicine Show from 1972 could be wound up into a galloping country rocker at full speed? But The Refreshments makes it sound so obvious.
”It’s such a wonderful and simple song with the classic three chords, and a lyric that sounds even more desperate the faster