“Cocoanut Groove’s second album, 2013’s How to Build a Maze, finds the band’s leader joined by a group for the first time and together they craft some truly lovely indie pop that’s highly arranged, affecting, and reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel fronting the Left Banke as reimagined by the Clientele. Plus a little moody ’60s jangle pop to boot. As before, Olov Antonsson handles guitar with a light touch, vocals with a richly understated sweetness, and songs with a sure-handed skill. His band of like-minded cohorts color in the lovely songs with gentle horns, full vocal harmonies, percussion, and nice surprises like harpsichord and vintage keys. It’s a classic indie pop sound that’s been done and done again, but Antonsson and crew manage to make it sound fresh and new in a pleasantly autumnal way. Alternating between songs that have a happy skip in their step and those that have some clouds in their sky, the album is never anything less than a warm embrace of melody and tenderness. At its best, as on the smartly paced “A Secret Tune” or the Byrdsian title track, the band stake their claim as heir to the great indie pop groups of the past (Belle & Sebastian, East Village). That the whole album is made up of moments that have that kind of timeless feel means that Cocoanut Groove have done something special here. Hopefully, indie pop fans will be able to get past their amazingly awful name and embrace as they should, the lovely pop that Cocoanut Groove have made here” (All Music Guide)
“How to Build a Maze” is the title track from the second album from Cocoanut Groove, due for release on 4 November. Fronted by Olov Antonsson, it’s their first as a full band, the debut album Madeleine Street (2008) having essentially been a solo project. Hailing from the North of Sweden, Antonsson wears his1960s baroque pop influences on his sleeve, along with traces of latter day guitar pop like The Smiths and The Clientele, and folk acts like Vashti Bunyan and Nick Drake.
The songs for How to Build a Maze were written and recorded over quite a long period of time. Bleaker and less naive than their debut it’s still no great departure, with Olov continuing to strive for 60s pop perfection, attempting to write something as beautiful as “Beechwood Park” by The Zombies or “World Of You” by The Aerovons. As well, there are quite a few traditional Swedish folk melodies hidden on the album, like the ones you find on the album “Jazz på svenska” by Swedish pianist Jan Johansson.
Recorded in various places around Olov’s hometown Umeå, with no professional recording studios involved whatsoever, the album is about getting lost in different ways – losing your way in city streets, losing friends and watching summers pass. The theme can be summed up by this simple definition from Wikipedia: “A maze is a tour puzzle in the form of a complex branching passage through which the solver must find a route.”
Having taken their name from a Lovin’ Spoonful/Roger Nichols song, Cocoanut Groove formed in 2007 with Olov writing and recording the song “The End Of The Summer On Bookbinder Road”, which became their debut single. Olov writes all the songs and plays guitar, as well as bass, piano and whatever else is needed. Over the years (and on this record) he has been joined by Calle Thoor, Anton Runesson and William Andersson (drums), Josef Ringqvist (bass), Mattias Malm (guitar, keys, vocals, arrangements, percussion and whatnot), Ivar and Gunnar Lantz (strings) and Frida Danielsson (trumpet).
Cocoanut Groove follow in a grand tradition of Swedish indiepop, with a focus on melody and beauty, tinged with melancholy. From the long, dark winters to the respite of the dreamy summers, the songs talk of escaping the city and pining for the countryside, about unemployment and having nothing to do but drink coffee and watch the birds fly.
Chicos y chicas, estamos ante una de las joyas que servidor haya escuchado en los últimos tiempos. Los suecos han facturado un disco grandioso, que sin duda se queda corto. Un Ep que se oye de arriba a abajo en un momento, que se disfruta y que nos deleita los oídos. Su sonido característico, acentuado, los rasgos del Retro-Pop son más claros, con elementos como el clavicordio de The Storm. La huella de bandas míticas como The Left Banke, Love, Sagittarius, The Zombies, aderezadas con el toque Belle and Sebastian (I´ve been following lonely roads, July) o la sutileza de la guitarra de doce cuerdas con el trademark de Roger McGuinn (Huckleberry). Por no hablar del toque fronterizo-sesentero con esos metales evocadores del Da Capo de Love del primer single extraído del Ep: Colours, que da nombre al disco; una canción de esas de sentimientos a flor de piel.
Seis cortes de los que no podemos dejar atrás ninguno. Cada uno tiene su propia historia y su propia personalidad, y cada uno nos evoca momentos de la historia más gloriosa del Pop. Nos diréis que su originalidad no es mucha, pero os equivocaréis, porque Cocoanut Groove reivindican para sí el protagonismo de todas esas huellas sonoras, sin renunciar para nada a ninguna. Su originalidad estriba en saberlas poner al día y actualizarlas convenientemente.
Colours es de las últimas referencias de Fraction Discs, el sello sueco especializado en esta suerte de Pop delicado. Puedes encontrar el disco en su página.
“Olov Antonsson’s musical journey took off in the early 00’s in Northern Sweden with cult-declared indiepop band The Tidy Ups, and he later joined Mattias Malm (from Funday Mornings) in his search for the perfect pop song in Everyday Mistakes. Some years later a perfect rendition of the 60’s baroque pop sound appeared on the internet: “The End Of The Summer On Bookbinder Road” by Olov Antonsson’s Cocoanut Groove. Not only had he made a Gothenburgian wordplay with a wink to (the almighty) Roger Nichols, he wrote in fact the same kind of elegant and rich orchestrated pop music that Michael Brown did with his The Left Banke. The song was released on a 7” single on Phonic Kidnapping in 2008, and later that year the praised debut album “Madeleine Street” was released on the Swedish Fridlyst label. Ten songs of 60’s sunshine pop and baroque pop, with a bit of folk thrown in. And at the same time an original piece of art.
After a hiatus, Cocoanut Groove is back with a much longed-for ten-inch on Fraction Discs! The new EP ”Colours” continues where the album left off – elegantly orchestrated pop melodies taking their starting point in the late sixties. With inspiration from sunshine pop, baroque pop and folk artists such as The Zombies, Love, The Left Banke, Sagittarius and Donovan, Olov Antonsson has written six new songs that perfectly balance the Swedish melancholy with the Californian sunshine. From the pop symphony “Colours” and the beautiful melancholia of “I’ve Been Following Lonely Roads” to the 60’s-tinged “Huckleberry” and the galloping Love-esque “The Spell”, this EP is a glorious example of Cocoanut Groove’s sensible production. Adorned with harpsichord, trumpet and viola, the arrangements enrich the melodies without the heartfelt core of the songs ever being lost” (fractiondiscs.se)