Kristoffer Ragnstam, 'Wrong Side of the Room' (Bluhammock)

6
Wrong Side of the Room
Critical Mass
Label: Bluhammock

by Josh Modell

Kristoffer Ragnstam comes from notoriously well-groomed Sweden, and that extreme fastidiousness creeps into the bouncy singer-songwriter's second album. When things get overly crisp, his new-wavey pop sounds like it's emerging from a vacuum-sealed can: "Sorry for Being the Man of 1,000 Questions" too closely recalls a slick Prince homage by Flight of the Conchords. But when Ragnstam rubs on some production dirt, things get playful and almost soulful: The chipper, piano-led "2008" rivals Phoenix, and "Swing That Tambourine" could be a juiced-up, Nordic John Vanderslice. Shine it just enough, Kris, but not too much.

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