THE WANNADIES - Bagsy Me

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Swedish import. "4 1/2 stars. From its puzzling name (which it shares with a popular Swedish children's play written by Thomas Tidholm) to the unsettling cover art, unexplained shots of beautiful young women playing dead, the Wannadies' fourth album has a distinctly odd vibe. This continues in Pär Wiksten's lyrics; even the most sugary pop songs here barely mask undercurrents of anger, spite, resignation, and obsession. "Friends" is one of the most vengeful kiss-offs to an ex this side of early Elvis Costello, and the vaguely tropical "Oh Yes (It's a Mess)" bemoans the fact that sleeping with someone you actually like is less fun than the alternatives. The songs are uniformly excellent, with the hyperactive "Damn It I Said" featuring both the album's best chorus and coolest guitar sound and the glorious "Someone Somewhere" the most singable melody. The nearly nine-minute closer, "That's All," might tax some listeners' patience, but the hypnotic coda doesn't actually overstay its welcome. Like early albums bythe Cardigans and other Swedish pop bands, the U.S. release of Bagsy Me was needlessly rejiggered, with a handful of songs replaced by tunes from the previous release, 1995's Be a Girl, and released as The Wannadies on RCA in late 1997"- AMG