Personnel: Per Gessle (vocals); Helena Josefsson (vocals).
Audio Mixers: Christoffer Lundquist; Ronny Lahti.
Recording information: 01/2008-10/2008.
The English-speaking world has more or less forgotten about Per Gessle since Roxette's dissolution in the mid-'90s. But the Swedish songsmith -- a major star in his native country -- never stopped churning out hummable, hooky pop, both solo and with the eventually re-formed Roxette. Party Crasher is his third English-language solo album and seventh overall, and it's about as solid as they come. The sheeny, synth-kissed production feels dated (circa the original Roxette era) in a way that could almost be hip...well, almost. (If the title's supposed to suggest that Gessle's crashing the late '00s' perpetual retro-'80s borrowed-nostalgia party, it's mostly a failure on that count.) But well-crafted melodies never go out of style, or at least they always come back around, and there is certainly no shortage here. The fizzy electro-pop single "Silly Really" sets the tone, musically and conceptually (it's a perfect frivolous Gessle song title, blithely devoid of any discernible meaning) and it's a blast. The supremely Cars-esque "Gut Feeling" and the goofy, surf-tinged "Thai with a Twist" (complete with sax solo, crowd noise, and vocoder breakdown, and no, the title doesn't make any more sense in context) may be even better. But the best stuff on here is the actually the mellower material: lush slow jams like "Hey, I Died and Went to Heaven" and "Perfect Excuse" (two of several tracks that benefit greatly from the vocal contributions of Helena Josefsson) and especially the breezy, buoyant, Caribbean-flavored "Breathe Life into Me" and "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On." All told, an impressive showing and a splendidly enjoyable album. ~ K. Ross Hoffman