ALBUM REVIEW: CEO – Wonderland

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CEO | Artist

Wonderland | Album

Sincerely Yours | Label

4 February 2014 | Release Date

7.8 | 10

Eric Berglund’s first album as CEO since 2009’s White Magic wastes little time in making its main thesis heard. “Whorehouse” begins with a sort of bonfire chant, with tribalesque drums and varying voices planting the song on the oceanside. The chorus is an instantly contagious specimen, and the multiple layers Berglund piles on gives the songs the weight they deserve without coming across as overbearing. The majority of Wonderland plays out like this, with enormous highs and only the occasional dip in energy.

No stone is left unturned in Berglund’s musical wonderland, many times during the course of one song. “Mirage” largely succeeds, in part due to its roots in The Weeknd’s dense, suffocating sonics. Of course, being the work of CEO, it is a bright, bubbly concoction, with he turns the song on its heels with an emphatic and raucous refrain.

It’s a record that is inspired at every turn, from the opening “Whorehouse” to the R&B-stylized closer “OMG.” The album is best when there is a clear arc in the songs’ progressions, such as on the opening and closing tracks of the album. On the other hand, tracks such as “Harikiri,” “Juju” and “Ultrakos” definitely sound pretty, but none present any challenges for Berglund, acting more as road signs on the interstate rather than any concrete place.

The album reaches its climax with the frenetic and stirring title-track, a multi-part epic in the most sincere of terms. What begins as simply an astounding synth-pop juggernaut (those SYNTHS(!!!)) morphs into a surreal middle section with a distorted vocal, fluid and liberal in its changes. The finale finds Berglund taking the song into overdrive, with a defiant and lively display that somehow manages to carry the enormous weight of the proceeding five minutes.

Hailing from Sweden, CEO is just one of many pop acts to emerge from the country in the past few years. Each have brought in impeccable sense of the dynamics required to make pop music, and CEO, with Wonderland, positions himself nicely in the top tier of likeminded musicians. Perhaps we all need to take a trip to wonderland.

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