Silence is Wild (Secretly Canadian)
Theoretically, it's a good time to be a cute Swedish girl making music: Lykke Li, Sally Shapiro and El Perro del Mar have all enjoyed lavish critical attention over the last year or two. Singer-songwriter-pianist Frida HyvÃ¶nen, though, hasn't -- at least not yet. And part of the reason is because she's never been content to be just a cute Swedish girl making music. She proved with her 2006 debut, Until Death Comes, that she's also a whole host of other things, among them a realist, a dedicated storyteller and a sex-positive feminist. Her follow-up, Silence is Wild, doesn't let those priorities go. Its standout track, "Scandinavian Blonde," is an indictment of, well, us -- audiences, that is, that think we've got the Nordic set all figured out. The narrative is whip-smart, sure; but the cleverest thing about the song is that Frida takes a cue from El Perro, et al, and sets the acerbic lyrics to a peppy, simple, retro-style accompaniment that wouldn't feel out of place in a musical-theater score. Frida HyvÃ¶nen hasn't abandoned her principles -- but this time around, we're eager to sing them right along with her.