At first, The Legends are a little frustrating. Their album name only appears on one side of the cd spine, the lyrics to only three songs are printed inside the cd jacket, only a bare minimum of credits are provided and a quick look at their album cover immediately conjures up the image of The Caesar’s 39 Minutes of Bliss album, whose cover is nearly identical to The Legends’ Up Against the Legends. But judging an album by its sleeve design isn’t a fair assessment of a band’s sound, as we all know, and if I’m supposed to review this album objectively, I just have to put the liner notes aside and pay attention to the actual music.
As it just so happens, the music more than makes up for the confusing and seemingly incomplete album art. The Swedish band crafts a fine two-minute pop song, something that many of their fellow countrymen (Howlin’ Pelle Almquist, I’m looking directly at you) could learn a thing or two about. Only one song on Up Against the Legends passes the two-minute mark, proving that The Legends aren’t messing around. And I can appreciate that. Good, solid rocking out shouldn’t drag on for an hour and a half.
The half-hour of power-pop on Up Against the Legends goes by quick, but these legendary lads cram as much fun as they possibly can into that thirty or so minutes. “Call it Ours” sounds like The Cardigans’ “Rise and Shine” played by The Caesars, while “There and Back Again” sounds like The Jesus and Mary Chain covering Pulp’s “Common People.” And though The Legends sound strongest when tackling über-distorted noise rock like “Breaking Time, Breaking Time,” they’re equally effective in making wonderful ballads like the breezy “When the Day Is Done.”
While many of Sweden’s current crop of garage rockers sound merely snotty and raucous, The Legends actually sound joyous and revelatory, two characteristics that are criminally absent from the vast majority of today’s rock `n’ roll records. That The Legends actually sound like they enjoy what they’re doing makes Up Against the Legends that much more fun a listen. It’s likely that The Legends may never achieve the success of a band like The Hives, but if they keep it up, their originality and talent may reward them in the long run.
Caesars – 39 Minutes of Bliss
Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy
Chisel – Set You Free
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.