"Happiness Is Toy Shaped" reviews
"Falling Out Of Love" reviews
"In Technicolor" reviews
"Casual" reviews

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Happiness Is Toy Shaped "Happiness Is Toy Shaped" (Shelflife) from Twee Kitten
Mahzel-tav to the Matssons! On the first record it was Ingela Karlsson on vocals and now it is Ingela Matsson on lead so unless they have recently discovered a common and fairly recent ancestor it appears love has bloomed in the land of Shermans. Awww. Love inspires then, and it appears it inspired the Shermans to play their Aislers Set records because a few of these songs actually do sound like Amy Linton's crew especially 'Adulthood For Beginners' which posseses that lifted Fairways style organ steely gliding along in the background and on first single 'Falling Out of Love' which has the echoey, hollow drums or drum patterns perfectly down pat. Elsewhere their love blossomed in their discovery of the bouncing vocals in different channels trick as it is heard on at least three of the tracks, maybe more! Like all quality bands the advancement does not appear to have been in the songwriting (though their cleverness in their non-native tongue is to be much admired) but rather in the complexity of arrangements and the intricacies (loads of piano played somewhat less dextrously than Steve Winwood) added. Ingela's voice is one of those near perfectly pitched instruments which to my ears brings to mind another band namely Adventures in Stereo in fact if Amy Linton, Judith Boyle and Jim Beattie created some androgenic stimulated gamete coctail it might grow up to sound something awfully similar to this most perfect of summer records. But outside the window is the harvest moon (did you know if you stare at the harvest moon when it is on the horizon with your head upside down and your gaze fixed between your legs the illusion of the oversized moon disappears?) and so you will need to console yourself with the idea that instead of picnics on the beach with the Shermans in the air you might need to curl up in a large pile of Catalpa leaves and dreamily waft the mersey-beat goodness of Mikael and Ingela's labour of love as the sun quickly moves beneath the sky.

- Keith Mclachlan
(www.tweekitten.com - Summer 2002)

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"Happiness Is Toy Shaped" (Shelflife) from Excellentonline.com
When I was in Tokyo earlier this year, I found a fantastic compilation called 'Airpop Terminal 2' with a rather frightening photo on the cover of a 'jet blue' plane flying in front of the twin towers in NYC. Despite the ominous image of the cover art (released on the German label "Apricot" at the beginning of 2001), I was intrigued by the huge diversity of musicians on the 2-disc set. I was pleasantly surprised that my favorite Chicagoans INSTA had rated well enough to get on a comp with BIRDIE, EGGSTONE, CINNAMON, et al. Yet above all else, the biggest joy on the album was a little Motown inspired ditty by THE SHERMANS... so 2 shermans cd's and a single later... I'm hooked.

THE SHERMANS - HAPPINESS IS TOY SHAPED (Shelflife 035)
The Shermans are entirely Swedish (including a former member of Red Sleeping Beauty) but wear their Phil Spector, Beach Boys and Motown influences on their sleeve with definite pride. Their sunshiney 3rd album "Happiness is Toy Shaped" came out in the US on Shelflife last fall. Fitting in nicely with many of the current twee-indie bands, THE SHERMANS could live happily in the same sphere as artists like THE AISLERS SET, CALL AND RESPONSE, THE LUCKSMITHS, GIRLFRENDO, BIRDIE, THE SATURDAY PEOPLE, THE LESLIES, CLUB 8, ADVENTURES IN STEREO, etc etc. Strumming guitars, simple piano melodies, and multi-tracked harmonies on the vocals of Ingela Matsson create beautiful stories of melancholy and the complexities of human behavior.

I realize that sticky sweetness is enough to make many people gag, but it's not the least bit pretentious and comes off as absolutely charming. The dreamy optimism of songs like "What Life's About" and "Adulthood for Beginners" are second to none. I'd love to live in a world where materialism takes a back seat to "kisses in the dark" or "a long hot bath" because "that's all i need, that it's for me what life's about, not all the money in the world". Call me a hopeless romantic, or simply fed up with the commericalism in the world... but at least I know that THE SHERMANS would love to live with me in utopia.

- Liz
(www.excellentonline.com - Summer 2002)

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"Happiness Is Toy Shaped" (Shelflife) from Splendid E-zine
Quirky doesn't cut much slack in American pop music -- we like our Britneys as close to straightforward caricature as possible. While this Swedish trio's tunes are unerringly catchy constructions of '60s girl group and '80s electro-pop, there's enough of a twist beneath the surface to indicate a less naive sensibility. The jaunty piano and drum machine tap of the opening "Boy with the Bright Eyes" hides a sly wink in Ingela Matsson's airy vocal as she sings, "I don't mind sitting silently and / Watching you for a while / Although I know it's quite annoying / I know you wish I'd / Think of something else to do / But it's actually my way to say / 'I love you'". The melancholy "July in London" dissects the end of a relationship with a wicked simplicity ("I didn't want to spend another holiday with you"); the accurately titled "Déjà Vu on Repeat" replays the minor key romanticism of vintage Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark. "Cindy Sherman" namechecks the unsettlingly provocative photographer. A certain obstinance courses under the pop sheen of the music, with "Adulthood for Beginners" using "ba ba ba"s to outshine the blunt anti-materialist declaration, "Money doesn't mean that much to me". "What Life's About" extolls the virtues of "hot apple pie" and "kisses in the dark" as opposed to "all the money in the world".

Piano takes the lead much of the time, with Matsson's multi-tracked vocals, chiming guitar and bass, and a variety of electronic keyboard textures filling out the upbeat bounce of the music. It's hard to discuss Swedish pop without mentioning the dreaded leading light of '70s Stockholm, Abba, some of whose sparkle rubs imaginatively against a British sense of (slightly twee) melodic lift. The titular cover likeness of Happiness is Toy Shaped -- an anorexic waif in a canary yellow pillbox -- looks like she stumbled in from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer's "Island of Misfit Toys", and it's that hint of difference that the Shermans put to good use. Buffed to a shiny glow, these 35 minutes of Happiness charm.

- Ryan Tranquilla
(www.splendidezine.com - Winter 2002)

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"Happiness Is Toy Shaped" (Shelflife) from Erasing Clouds
On one level, the Shermans (a trio from Stockholm) play music that is quintessentially pop: with an unending amount of catchy melodies and "ba-da-da" harmonies, they're the band most likely to be labeled "bouncy," "happy" or "cute." And that's not a bad thing…with sweet vocals and music that taps into an array of styles (60's vocal groups, bossa nova, rock, dance music) without clouding the straightforward, hummable tunes, The Shermans have the key to the hearts of anyone who loves pop music. Yet even better, their music has the best quality of all great art--it works at more than one level. Underneath the bubblegum surface lies heart-wrenchingly realistic portraits of human interactions. Instead of the surface-level simplifications many pop musicians give to relationships and the myriad feelings that accompany them, The Shemans supply depth. The effortless way that they do that is what makes their music so striking--they play simple love songs and show that there's nothing simple about love. Their lyrics capture the complexity of the ways that human beings relate. Take this line from "Sad Kind of Life," for example: "I really love you/though I'm tired of you/is that what friendship's all about?" Other songs, like "Boy with the Bright Eyes" and "July in London," describe communication (verbal and nonverbal) and miscommunication in really vivid terms, showing these same complexities without explicitly stating them. There's also a pair of songs, "Adulthood for Beginners" and obviously titled "What Life's About," that look at the question of what we choose to value in life and, more specifically, the topic of money and how it relates to life decisions. No matter the topic, The Shermans manage to be both giddy and grounded; they're starry-eyed dreamers and down-to-earth realists, using beautiful pop songs to both capture the world around us and wish for a better one.

- Dave Heaton
(www.erasingclouds.com - Winter 2002)

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"Happiness Is Toy Shaped" (Shelflife) from Indie Spin Zone
This is their second "proper" album, third actual in three years. While the pop sensibilities we came to expect from this band are here, it is a bit more subdued, perhaps mature. They still manage to capture some sixties nuances in their sound, but this time some of the overt pop is replaced by a seedier side, as evidenced on the track Lousy Judge of Character which has an almost sixties spy "gangster" guitar line in it and a while the song has a pop current there is a nice sense of gloom about it. (how gloomy can it get with the odd glockenspiel "ting" in it?) Sadly there isn't as much of that as I'd have liked as it's an interesting twist for them, but there isn't anything wrong with the old "them" either and there's lots of that here as well. (if the lyrics are perhaps a bit more morose) Some tracks also sound a bit like Birdie, and they never came that close to it being said before, at least not that it needed saying, but if you're plumbing the waters of 60's pop with a farfisa then it's inevitable I suppose. I particularly like the quirky Deja' Vu on Repeat which has that kind of stupid, one might say insipid, little "doot, do do" keyboard repeat that sticks in your head all day. Simple drum line, a little doot, do, do and you sit hypnotised. Isn't pop great? Anyway, this is certainly a nice little record and I'd be happy to take a dozen like it.

- J.P. Henry
(www.indiespinzone.com - Winter 2001)

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"Happiness Is Toy Shaped" (Shelflife) from IndiePages
Sometimes, I can review a record before I've even heard it. Of course, it'd be really hard to resist listening to a Shermans record! The Shermans (like its predecessor, Red Sleeping Beauty) are just one of those perfect pop bands that can never do any wrong. Sure, their records and songs are all fairly similar - short and catchy tunes with Ingela's beautiful voice, a hint of soul, and lots of vibes - but when you've perfected the pop song, why would you ever deviate? If you've ever loved any Shermans or Red Sleeping Beauty song, there's no reason you won't fall in love with this new collection of songs. (MTQ=14/14)

- Chris and Arianne
(www.indiepages.com - December 2001)

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Falling Out Of Love "Falling Out Of Love" (Shelflife / Sky Blue) from Section M
I have a feeling that this EP will have a very polarizing effect on people. Some will be absolutely smitten by the cutesy lyrics, breathy female vocals and Retro-Pop arrangements. They are the people who wear Hello Kitty barrettes and listen to Mates of State and Pizzicato Five. They are the ones who will pick up on the "Phil Spector Girl Group Wannabe" style of the Shermans and annoy their friends and family by playing this 5 song, 11 minute EP incessantly.

Some people will take one listen and hear silly Swedish girls singing about ladybugs and daydreams over simple songs built from the elements of post-Pet Sounds production oriented, studio based pop. They will take one listen to the cheap organs, xylophones, vibes, and layers of "la la la"s and "ba ba ba ba"s and dismiss the Shermans as a confection with no substance.

I have to say though, that I'm on the fence. (I'm a Gemini, I'm allowed to be indecisive and see things both ways). I want to say that Falling Out of Love is overly saccharine, far too whimsical, incredibly derivative, and sickeningly twee. I want to say that there's far too much reverb on the drums, that the songs are far too short (though perhaps mercifully so). I want to say that the reference points and influences are far too obvious and that the band does nothing that hasn't been done hundreds of times over the past 30 years, and they certainly aren't doing it any better.

But I don't think I can say that anymore. Well, I can, and I did, but I don't think I can say it as wholeheartedly as I would have at first. I'm listening to Falling Out of Love for the third time straight while writing this, and each time the retro-kitsch melodies get more familiar and more welcome. Every 11-minute cycle of cloying cuteness wears away my derision a little more. I'm afraid I'm actually going to start enjoying this music without any sense of irony or detachment! What's happening? Quick, someone give me a Dead Milkmen album...

- Dylan Abbott
(www.sectionm.com - Summer 2001)

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"Falling Out Of Love" (Shelflife / Sky Blue) from Indie Spin Zone
This is the teaser single to the forthcoming album Happiness is Toy Shaped. It has 5 songs, only the title track appearing on the album so there are 4 otherwise unavailable songs here. I will say these four tracks do all sound a slight bit alike, which is probably why they were left off the LP. Not that any of it is bad, but nevertheless they tread the same water. The title track gives a glimpse of the pop "gloom" they would exhibit on the next LP and it's a nice little song. If you're the kind who needs it all then this won't disappoint, but if you're starting from scratch with this band get an album instead. You can always come back for this if you like them that much.

- J.P. Henry
(www.indiespinzone.com - Winter 2001)

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"Falling Out Of Love" (Shelflife / Sky Blue) from Pop Matters
"Ba-ba-da," "doo-doo-doo" and "da-da-da-da" are phrases that look silly in print but have played an important role in the history of pop music. This sort of nonsensical expression has harmoniously supported bubblegum melodies throughout pop history, from doo-wop to the Beach Boys to the indie-pop of today. In that latter category lie The Shermans, a trio from Stockholm, Sweden. Their sound is firmly in the tradition of sugar-sweet classic pop, with melodies, harmonies and hooks galore. Yet as with the best music, there's more going on than first meets the ear. They take the catchiest, prettiest pop surfaces and use them to dive into authentic human stories of love, loss and alienation.

Falling Out of Love is a 5-song EP, a quick preface to the Shermans' third album Happiness Is Toy Shaped, to be released soon on Shelflife. One track, the title track, is taken from that album; the other 4 are non-album tracks. Yet all five are equally superb, a fact that makes it likely that their upcoming album will be just as filled with top-notch material. Absolutely sunny in tone from start to end, the EP is a bouncy, energetic pop treat, but with lyrics that go much deeper than you might expect from music with such a pleasurably upbeat surface. Each song offers a deep, nuanced examination of human relationships and feelings. The band captures feelings of sadness, pain and despair through the lyrics and vocals, while keeping the music giddy at all times.

"We took turns to backstab and one day it didn't hurt, as hollow as can be," Ingela Matsson sings on the title track, describing the deterioration of love in honest terms. That sort of heart-baring honesty comes through on every song, including "Little Millie", the story of a child ostracized from her peers at the playground, and "Shallow Smile", a light, blissful tune with echoing vocals which convey disgust at the empty questions and meaningless niceties people throw at each other. The final track, "My Baby", is a realization that being ditched by your lover might actually be a good thing, an opportunity for freedom. The song is also perfectly suited to radio (well, to 1960s AM radio, perhaps), with a perfectly classic pop feel.

The Shermans take after 50's and 60's pop in a musical way, but they also continue the tradition of pop music which deals with serious emotional issues in a seemingly simple way. The staying power of so much great pop music, from Motown to Beat Happening, lies in the ability to get at important, genuine human truths with a minimum of words, while entrancing listeners with lovely pop sounds. The Shermans do exactly that; their music is light on one level and serious on another, a perfect balance.

- Dave Heaton
(www.popmatters.com - Summer 2001)

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"Falling Out Of Love" (Shelflife / Sky Blue) from IndiePages
A teaser for the forthcoming new cd on Shelflife, this is five new songs (with only the first to be on the new cd). The Shermans haven't changed much, and I'm glad. They're still sunny bouncy pop with lots of bells, Ingela's lovely voice, and that familiar drum machine sound I've loved since the first Red Sleeping Beauty cd. This is perfect summer pop! (MTQ=5/5)

- Chris and Arianne
(www.indiepages.com - May 2001)

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"Falling Out Of Love" (Shelflife / Sky Blue) from Dream Magazine
Swedish pop trio with wonderful female vocalist Ingela Karlsson, now mysteriously she's changed her last name to that of this band's composer and multi-instrumentalist mastermind Mikael Matsson (formerly of Red Sleeping Beauty). Christer Nilsson fills out the sound with his bass. Five wonderful slices of gorgeous "girl-group" pop, bringing to mind dreamgroups from The Toys and The Shangri-Las, to Sorrow, Bananarama, Strawberry Switchblade, and The Marine Girls. Beautiful feel-good sad songs.

- George Parsons
(Dream Magazine #2 - Spring 2001)

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In Technicolor "In Technicolor" (Shelflife) from Indie Spin Zone
This is the first album from this rather prolific Swedish group. I had first heard the opening track Practiced Performance on the You make Me Smile compilation cd and just loved it. Lead singer Ingela Matsson has a great voice, kind of sixties pop bubblegum sounding, but quite listenable. If you've read any of the reviews on this site it should be apparent that Sweden is the IT spot right now, and this band is certainly one of the reasons why. Beautiful, shining and summery pop guitar and wonderful pop tunes. I've liked everything so far, but I still think this one is their best albums. That said there isn't a whole lot more to say; if you like music then this is simply an LP you need to own.

- J.P. Henry
(www.indiespinzone.com - Spring 2001)

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"In Technicolor" (Shelflife) from Spacelab Transmissions
The most noticeable and notable item worth mentioning about the Shermans is the vocals, I think. I guess it's her unique voice. I'm sure there are other ladies who have a similar-sounding voice, but you know, it's still different from what you normally hear. her voice is sort of low but high, sweet and soft.. And the combination of all of that is what really stands out. If you have ever heard Adventures in Stereo, think Adventures in Stereo with less of that Beach Boys sounding melody, and the female singer just woke up and her voice isn't so perky. And, i know, i know, but i can't help it.. sometimes its just easier to tell you how a band sounds by comparing them to other bands! and i don't care what you think! well, anyways, the Shermans also sort of remind me of the Fairways, you know, that band from SF... except the vocals are female vocals, not male ones.

- Mioi
(www.spacelab.org - Fall 2000)

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"In Technicolor" (Shelflife) from Skyway zine
It sometimes seems like if you've heard one Swedish indiepop band, steeped in that signature lightweight and silky smooth sound, you've heard them all. And while the Shermans don't exactly burst free of that generalization, they do come from exceptional breeding - main man Mikael Matsson (who juggles guitars, keys, vibes, and more) used to lead Red Sleeping Beauty, one of the prettiest acts of the international pop circuit for years. In his new band, Matsson supplies the music (with help from Christer Nilsson on bass) while the ever-elegant Ingela Karlsson infuses it with the magic of her delicate vocals and sly lyrics. On the opening "Practiced Performance," the definite stand-out of this sophomore effort, the music is so bouncy and sparkling that it might be easy to miss Karlsson's insights at first - she slides the best line, "Because I'm too old for smoky bars," in there right before the ultra-catchy chorus kicks in. Like other bands from the same geographic region, the Shermans occasionally sound too slight or wispy for their own good, but luckily, Matsson has struck gold with Karlsson, whose lyrics add a definite gloss of profundity to the mix, And let's not forget just how drop-dead lovely that voice of hers is.

- Doug Wallen
(Skyway zine - Fall 2000)

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"In Technicolor" (Shelflife) from Informativos.net
Otra de esas delicias suecas, con Mikael Matsson de Red Sleeping Beauty como compositor de todas las canciones y productor del sonido de este "In Technicolor". El trío queda completado con Christer Nilsson y la voz de Ingela Karlsson, de un hilo nasal muy especial que le otorga una belleza casi inédita. Como corresponde a cualquier trabajo editado por Shelflife, el debut de THE SHERMANS es pop luminoso, cualidad que queda multiplicada por la procedencia del trío, una Suecia que no para de dar manjares melódicos para el disfrute del oyente más goloso. Evidentemente recuerdan a las estrellas más célebres del pop nórdico con un grado de melancolía vital superior. Las canciones son divinas e inmediatas, como "Sunday Morning" o "Practiced Perfomance", auténticas perlas melódicas, pero quizá donde triunfa verdaderamente este grupo es en un tipo de canción que a la primera no destaca demasiado pero que, con el tiempo y un par de escuchas más, calan muy hondo. El ejemplo más claro es "Wasted Moments", puro celofán en el estribillo, calidad que no se ve a lo lejos. Pop sueco, sonido del pop de lo sesenta y unas gotas de la Motown para un grupo que trabaja desde la elegancia. Y la domina en todos sus ámbitos.

- Jesús Castillo
(www.informativos.net - Fall 2000)

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"In Technicolor" (Shelflife) from Splendid E-zine
The Shermans, who put a modern Swedish twist on "Brill Building Pop", were my least favorite band on the great Sounds of Young Sweden compilation. They didn't stick out on March's Moshi Moshi compilation either. If I could explain why, I would, but it's downright baffling for me to comprehend right now. On the 27 minutes they sing In Technicolor, there's not a moment where I don't find some remnant of their great pop instincts. These ten songs, entirely lacking in padding, are melodically driven by the work of the wonderful multi-instrumentalist Mikael Matsson (formerly of Red Sleeping Beauty) and the lovely vocals of Ingela Karlsson, who's even able to inject real feeling into ready-made visions of morning joy -- birds in the air, the sun on its way, etc. One listen to her and you accept the band's vision, entering a world where you've already been lifted into the air by the giddiness of pop music and the headiness of love and heartache.

Though Mikael can't seem to find any sad keys on his piano, the juxtaposition this brings to lyrically downbeat songs (like "Dumbhead") works wonderfully, highlighting the perk that the best pop music gives us: it allows us to look sadness in the face and think only of dancing. The Shermans' mix of the emotional highs and lows is not deeply personal ("I'd be a fool to fall in love/Do you want to see his picture?"), and might well be a matter of them imitating records they love, but these songs work. Unlike the Nancy Sinatra School of Cool, they always project feeling, as if their lyrical trifles really do matter and it's never just a matter of being "breezy".

There's one great attribute of the Nancy Sinatra School that In Technicolor doesn't abandon: the band's overall sense of style. The CD insert shows Ingela with sewing material and a number of vintage dresses, and it's done so nicely that these images remain in your mind as you listen. hile this might not seem relevant to the music, it helps to extend the band's packaged "image" beyond their recorded performance. The same adage applies to the new pop stars as it did to the media-savvy Bananarama: every little bit helps, and the more images a song brings, the better. The Shermans have brought us, In Technicolor, all the melodies, glamour and emotion that our remaining summer days yearn for. I dance away my bad moods and am grateful.

- Theodore Defosse
(www.splendidezine.com - August 2000)

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"In Technicolor" (Shelflife) from IndiePages
New band from Mikael Matsson (main Red Sleeping Beauty fellow), and in the tradition of RSB, Club 8, & Acid House Kings, this is an instant classic! This sounds a lot like RSB in many ways, except for the vocals, since Ingela took over. A few of these songs show a departure, though, such as "Dumbhead", which reminds me of Adventures In Stereo. Eleven songs in about 27 minutes. Perfect lengths, perfect style, beautiful sleeve design by Steve Crushworthy... Do we have a perfect pop record? Yes, we do! (MTQ=11/11)

- Chris and Arianne
(www.indiepages.com - Summer 2000)

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Casual "Casual" (Shelflife) from Indie Spin Zone
This album represents the early singles and material of this band when they cruised other labels like Benno and Apricot to name a few. (around 1998 or thereabouts) It also features some singing by their since gone lead singer Torbjorn Thorsen. He starts off on the opener The Myth of Being Alone which is a great song, but damn it, just as it gets going and is at the point where it reaches the end of the first chorus, it ENDS! (at 57 seconds) Why is more than a bit baffling, as the song is good and is just getting going when it ends. The same thing happens on the next track he sings on My Favorite Cuppa which ends at a lengthy 1.25. Well, what can I say? It's not like it's bad, it's actually great and the only flaw is it ends so fast. I suppose that's amended by the fact this thing has 18 songs on it. Most of his songs are all under 2 minutes and while I prefer brevity in a pop song that's a little too short. The songs Ingela sings tend to be a bit longer. There's not much we can do, and again it certainly isn't like it makes the songs bad. They are like commando attacks that hit you suddenly and are gone as quickly. It'll lose a few points for that but still, this is just a great little pop encapsulation and will certainly please.

- J.P. Henry
(www.indiespinzone.com - Spring 2001)

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"Casual" (Shelflife) from Shredding Paper
The domestic release of The Shermans' singles collection Casual is proof positive that indiepop in the right hands is still a thing of glory. Over 18 near-perfect songs, The Shermans combine charm, grace, and effortless melodies, at time recalling the glory of Heavenly and The Softies. Ingela Matsson's breathy alto claims ownership of each song she sings, and Torbjorn Thorson (now doing time in Aerospace) allows his own Zombie-fied voice to bounce above the band's ever-bobbing rhythms. Though cut from the same cloth as other Shelflife bands such as The Moving Pictures, The Shermans have more in common with the dignified continental pop purveyed by Siesta Records, songs transcending postured cutesiness and arriving at full-grown pop glory. They summon the bossa-swank of Nancy Sinatra on "Loud and Laughing" and the Brill Building perfection of Burt Bacharach on "Springtime Sunshine". A singles collection with rare cohesiveness and vision, "Casual" is an unqualified success.

- J Edward
(Shredding Paper - Fall 2001)

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"Casual" (Shelflife) from Delusions of Adequacy
Riding 34 miles-per-hour in a 35 miles-per-hour lane with window cracked and autumn leaves lining the street curbs, and the Shermans' Casual playing on my car stereo, I cannot help but show hints of a smile. The Shermans (made of members of the like-minded Red Sleeping Beauty and Aerospace) are all about carefree, happy pop. As long as the listener is not cynical with a generally negative outlook on life, the Shermans are bound to put the listener into a sunny mood.

Borrowing from the Motown pop of the 1950s and '60s, Casual consists of indie-pop guitar work and "shoo-bee-doo-bee-doo-ba-bas" along with synthesizers and jazzy bass. Gathering from various singles recorded in Stockholm and released only in Japan and then the Philippines, the album has a total of 18 tracks, three of which are bonus tracks for the US release only. And, surprisingly enough, it challenges me to pick a standout track, as each is as melodic as the last. Casual cannot help but remind me of Wolfie's Awful Mess Mystery, not so much because of the actual music, but because of the general feel of each album. Both albums have 15 tracks, an average song length of two minutes, are overtly happy, contain many a "ba-ba-da / na-na-na," and both garnered more press in Japan. Both also do not seem to grow tiresome, as they make the listener want to continually move limbs from the booty down.

Okay, now that I have listened to Casual for the ump-teenth time, "Fling" sticks out with its up-tempo guitar work and a melody similar to an Apples in Stereo tune. Ex-bandmate Torbjorn Thorsen provides vocals on this song and a minority of the other 18 tracks. But it is Ingela Matsson who sings on most songs, in her cutesy, entrancing voice. I cannot choose a favorite between the two vocalists. Both project their voice in a similar fashion. The only difference, really, is the sex of the vocalist, a minor detail in the context of this particular situation. "Loud and Laughing" also makes a name for itself with its funk bass and equally funk synth, even bringing to mind the likes of Stereolab.

"I don't mind spending hours of my precious time waiting for you / to call me on the phone / oh I'll be there for you and I / I don't care if my life takes me nowhere / as long as you are right by my side / the sun will always shine." The lyrical content follows in this vein throughout the album. Although it is harmless, I am sure that is what the Shermans were aiming for.

It is unfortunate that Japan sees the release of so many superb albums that the US misses. The Polysics are a perfect example of a crazy, almost headache-inducing band from Tokyo that almost never saw the light of day in the United States. The Shermans are another example of a strong band that is finally releasing albums available to America without having to pay that extra cost for an import. Just make sure you do not listen to Casual if you are the frustrated type, for it is bound to cause you to throw the CD out the car window. But if you have the least bit of heart in you, Casual will make you all warm and fuzzy inside.

- Patrick
(www.adequacy.net - Fall 2001)

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"Casual" (Shelflife) from Pop Child
Sí, lo adivinaste, más pop!! Esta vez de la mano de Mikael Matsson (exmiembro de Red Sleeping Beauty), Christer Nilsson y Ingela Karlsson como vocalista. Tras publicar The Shermans su segundo álbum ("In Technicolor") en Shelflife, ahora este sello nos ofrece la reedición de "Casual", primer trabajo de esta agrupación, publicado inicialmente por el sello japonés Quince. "Casual" lo forman dieciocho temas de pop acústico en el que se pueden apreciar detalles próximos al jazz o al sonido Motown y sixtie. A pesar de la corta duración de las canciones, ya que ninguna de ellas supera los tres minutos, consiguen introducir en tus venas sin demasiada dificultad sentimientos que te transportan directamente, sin paradas transitorias, hacia el universo pop (léase en mayúsculas, por supuesto).

- Alfonso
(www.popchild.com - Fall 2001)

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"Casual" (Shelflife) from Isollae
A beautiful collection of songs from singles, compilations and a few bonus tracks. Breezy pop songs, and I'm sure this comes as no surprise, that sound like a cross bewteen Red Sleeping Beauty and Aerospace. Essential even if you have the singles already. Eighteen songs and not a bad one in the bunch. Nice use of the Optigon too.

- Corey Bowl
(Isollae - Summer 2001)

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"Casual" (Shelflife) from Tasty
Possibly one of the most perfect pop labels around at the moment, Shelflife have done us all a favor and re-released The Sherman's debut, previously only available in Japan and the Phillipines. A compilation of early singles and the odd compilation track, The Shermans make a near perfect retro sound, in the Nancy Sinatra mould and even manage to make the odd blast of jazz sound listenable, no mean feat when you're playing to tasty's ignorant ears... A must for all cheesy listening fans...

- Sam Metcalf
(Tasty - Summer 2001)

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"Casual" (Shelflife) from Modular
Shelflife Records released "Casual" of the Swedish The Shermans, one of the most cool bands of the present time. Originally released in Japan and later in Phillipines, this album brings a summary of the begining of Shermans' career (1997-1999), reuniting excellent songs with youthful coolness, previously edited in singles and compilations. The mix of twee pop and 60's Motown is predominant and some of the songs still features the former vocalist, Torbjorn Thorsen ( Aerospace ). "Casual" brings 3 brilliant bonus tracks and is a previous of the next album "Happiness Is Toy Shaped", which is going to be released by Shelflife on the next couple months. I already heard and love it!!! Highlights: "The Myth Of Being Alone", "Loud And Laughing", "Best Of Friends" and "Fling".

- Josmar Madureira
(www.modular.ipfox.com - Summer 2001)

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"Casual" (Shelflife) from IndiePages
What can I say about this band, other than they are one of the most perfect pop bands! This is their debut cd, sort of. It was released in Japan first, then reissued in the Philippines (both times unavailable in the US), as a singles compilation. But now it's finally available in America, along with a few extra tracks that weren't on either of those discs. And as it was a singles comp, I had more than half of these songs already (on the 7"s on Blackbean & Fantastic, as well as a couple comps), but that makes seven brand new songs, and that's great by me! About half of the songs were recorded back when Toby (Aerospace) was singing, and it doesn't sound too unlike Aerospace or Red Sleeping Beauty (which also isn't a surprise, due to the fact that this is the new band from Mikael of RSB). All of the songs are short and bouncy, and lots of fun - perfect summery pop at its best! (MTQ=18/18)

- Chris and Arianne
(www.indiepages.com - Summer 2001)

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"Casual" (Universal) from Pinoycentral
There are about hundreds upon hundreds of new Indie releases everywhere in the world every month. Among these numerous releases, however, very few are really worth noticing. One such release is from the Shermans and its called Casual. Following such great acts in the Indie scene as Club 8, Acid House Kings and many more, the Shermans' music displays the same smooth sounding tune that has been identified with Indie's twee pop.

Spawning from a band known as Red Sleeping Beauty, Mikael Matsson together with Torbjorn Thorsen did their first recording as Shermans in 1997 for a Christmas compilation under the label Blackbean and Placenta. It was after that first single that Christer Nilsson joined the band and played bass. They came out with their first single entitled "The Sound of the Shermans" (under Blackbean and Placenta). Then after some live gigs, Torbjorn left the band but was replaced by vocalist Ingela Karlsson. The Shermans had a bunch of releases done by different labels both with Ingela and Torbjorn on vocals. So, don't be mislead that they are still together as a group.

The creation of pop so undeniably tasty and the revival of the acoustic movement makes the Shermans' sincerity to this intention evident in the songs they produce: timeless, intimate, and honest classics.

From 1998 to 1999 the band started recording their songs for the album, when it finished, Casual became a reality. The 17-track CD contains much of the songs that they played during their gigs and some they composed doing the recordings. All of which, refreshing to the ear and easy to adore.

Not to be dismissed as just another twee group, the Shermans' releases in Casual contains much of the endearing qualities of twee but the difference lies in the soul they put into each of their songs. Careful attention to the last detail shows in the kind of songs they included in the album. In Casual, most of the vocals were done by Karlsson whose voice reflects the exact personification of an angel: soft, smooth, and soothing. Tracks like "Best Of Friends", "My Cue", and "Happy Being Lonely" among others are best examples of the way the entire band comes up with wonderful songs. All three songs demonstrate the talents of the musicians with their respective instruments. Skillfully handled by Mattson and Thorsen the guitar emits out soft notes that fit perfectly with the vocals of Ingela with melodies that spiral gently all around the songs. But, some other tracks find themselves having Thorsen in lead vocals. Cuts like "My Favorite Cuppa", "Fling", and "Summer In Your Heart" are perfect examples of this. Thorsen's way of singing is so refreshing and really a delight to the ear. But one thing to complain about though is that most of the songs in Casual are less than three minutes.

The music of the Shermans is definitely worth every penny. I highly suggest that Indie lovers everywhere give this group a try and it will surely end up in most people's collection or want-to-have lists. Trust me folks, this one you wouldn't want to miss out on.

You can read more about the Shermans and their new releases through this link, http://www.shelflife.com/shermans/.

Casual is released in the Philippines through Universal Records. It is through their efforts that the album can now be found in two countries. You can pick up your copy of this album at any Tower Records or Music One outlet.

- Eric J. Yuoh
(www.pinoycentral.com - Winter 2000)

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"Casual" (Quince) from Dagger Fanzine
Amazing 17 song collection from this Swedish bunch (guitarist Mikael used to be in the great Red Sleeping Beauty) and my 2nd fave record of the year (right behind the mojave 3 record). This record is impossible to findas it's on a small Japanese label and I've even tried emailing the label to get some for my catalog, but to no avail. And I've had these songs on tape long before I got my copy of the CD (a BIG thank you to WAX MUSEUM editor , TC Costulis). If you've heard some of the other recent Swedish greats (ie: Club 8, Acid House Kings, Semester, PopraceCinnamon, Leslies etc.) then you know what to expect: perfect jangle guitars, smooth synthesizers and strings (from synths, I assume) and just the best melodies around. And Ingela has the best vocals since R.S.B's Kristina! I'll be happy to make anyone a tape!

- Tim Hinely
(Dagger Fanzine #26 - 1999)


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