Awesomer Than All Summers Before: Thoughts on Eggstone's "Like So"

 
 

The supreme pop lords of Malmö have returned, and our 19 collective years in the wilderness have ended. Basically picking up where they left off in 1997, this song is positively dripping with the kind of subtle intricacies of phrasing, harmony and texture for which the band is renowned. To put it briefly: the guitar chords are lush and bubbly, the meters are labyrinthine without being flashy, and the vocal lines have that trademark Per Sunding wandering-without-being-lost vibe. It's as if someone discovered a previously unreleased  Eggstone b-side from the 90s in the bottom of a desk drawer somewhere. In particular, Sunding's powerful yet graceful voice sounds like it hasn't aged a day in the last two decades, and let it be known that guitarist Patrik Bartosch and drummer Maurits Carlsson both remain at the top of their game as well.  At the same time, the song feels like both a commentary on where they've been as a band and a statement of intent for the future.

Eggstone in 1991

Eggstone in 1991

Lyrically, all the familiar Eggstone subject matter is covered here: drinking coffee, the effortless charm of new love, staring at the ceiling, and of course summer. Let's not forget summer! Yes, The Fairer Season has been a recurring theme in Eggstone's music since the pre-In San Diego days, so it should come as no surprise that it serves as the primary allegory here. On that front, I'll wager it's no accident that "Like So" is set to pretty much the exact same tempo as the elegantly playful "Summer and Looking for a Job." It even includes a few melismatic oohs and ahhs that harken back to that earlier song's partially wordless refrain.

But summer plays a much deeper role in "Like So" than it has in any previous Eggstone song. Far from a simple paean to the annual climatic effects of Earth's axial tilt, the song's chorus is actually a reference to the band itself and its history. When Per Sunding sings "This summer is awesomer than all summers before", he's not talking about the weather. He's reassuring us that not only are Eggstone back after a much-deserved if lamentably long leave of absence, but that they're better than ever before. Though it sounds cliché, it's absolutely clear from this track that taking the time off in those intervening years—to live their lives and raise families, you know, people stuff—has totally reinvigorated their passion for life and instilled them with fresh confidence as a band. I have no idea whether this unexpected single portends any possibility of a future full-length album; I'm just glad they decided to share it with us.

It's not on iTunes yet, but you can buy the song on Amazon.

It's not on iTunes yet, but you can buy the song on Amazon.

As for the broader themes, "Like So" is a hopeful yet bittersweet threnody about the ephemeral nature of life, and in that regard it echoes much of their earlier work, most notably the frenetic "Still All Stands Still" and the somber "Neil", together the one-two closing volley from 1997's Vive La Différence (stylistically, "Like So" hits pretty much dead center between the two). In particular, seemingly contradictory lines like "Me and you feel no hunger | Nothing is enough" fit right in line with the ambivalent push-and-pull drive of stuff like "I need to work I need a break | I have to leave I'm going to wait" from "Still All Stands Still." Even the opening line, "Hurry up, no one is waiting", seems to evoke their Vibrafon labelmates The Mopeds' life-affirming opus "Life's Too Short to Hurry" from the same year. And, going a further decade-ish back and a continent over, the general tenor of these lyrics is also reminiscent—to this reviewer, at least!—of Canadian power trio Rush's similarly bittersweet synthy 80s powerballad "Time Stand Still." The common thread between all these songs is the paradoxical exhortation to remember always to slow down and always to speed up, because we're each of us here only for a finite, beautiful span.

There is much to be grateful for in this life, and all the much more so now that Eggstone have returned. I hope they decide to stay for a while.