A New Chance
This is the second album by up-and-comers The Tough Alliance, and as you’ll soon find, their name evokes a giggle once you hear their music. Poppy synths (veering dangerously close to ‘80s turf: is that “Enola Gay” we hear in a synth line?) with skittering pianos and percussion carry vocals as carefree as George Michael’s once were. There’s plenty of finger-snapping and happy feet, too. Tough, indeed. Henning Fürst and Eric Berglund not only share a record label and homeland with fellow Swede Jens Lekman (who has sampled The Tough Alliance in his own work), but they also share an appreciation of the simple joys of well-crafted pop. There’s a whiff of innocence and nostalgia running through the music of both Lekman and TTA, and yet their songs also contain a level of structural maturity that gives them a surprising heft and substance. The title track here says it all: the optimism held in a lyric like “Any day is a new chance / a new romance” is enough to power the entire record. The song skips along, all airy and hopeful and light, as do other confections like “First Class Riot” and “The Last Dance.” “Looking for Gold” brings a reggae beat to the party and “Miami” has a glassy, Abba-like sheen to it. The Tough Alliance make music that is uplifting, fresh, and darn hard not to like.