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Teddybears “Soft Machine” Review

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

There is a sharp contrast in terms of contribution and exploration between the worlds of rock music and electronic music. Without heavily elaborating, if a punk rock icon was to release an electronic track, and in doing so expanding their previously stagnant sound base by leaps and bounds, it would be viewed as shocking and bold. But, if a group of elecro-grooving masked men took the stage and blazed a blanket of music covering everything from dance hall to electronica (circa 1996) to their version of modern punk, it becomes essentially complacent with the genre’s expectations. Such is Sweden’s Teddybears.

Iggy Pop’s contributing chorus in “Punkrocker” sounds so childish and undeveloped while at the same time serving as an inside look to what might be the band’s hidden mission statement. The punk model no longer becomes influenced by music, but rather persona and style through his words, “You can hear me laughing to myself, you can hear the music in my head, ‘cause I’m a punkrocker, yes I am.” Though Iggy has often been given much more recognition for his physical, rather than lyrical, punch his words help develop the current Teddybears, especially when given the group’s long standing history.

Founded as Skull in the early 1990s, the band broke out on the traditional grindcore scene, mildly shifting towards electronica over the course of a decade as the bands name, too, changed. Teddybears (formerly Teddybears STHLM) branded the band’s name as a reaction to an edgier trend among Scandinavian black metal, and its band’s unnecessarily graphic names, further leveraging a means towards what might honestly be considered anti-system. The group is honestly far from a just a Jonny-come-lately bunch of bandwagoneers hoping to grasp onto the remains of dance-punk, but rather a broadly unknown set of innovators that has lead the pack throughout.

And now they’re everywhere. The Mad Cobra collaboration “Cobrastyle” has been licensed on Moby-sized proportions, finding a perfect sound somewhere between Snatch and a hand-clappers convention. As such, it wouldn’t be excessive to compare the band to Moby, as Soft Machine could honestly be Teddybears’ Play. Both had a darker history in rock before moving towards an, at times, sickeningly sweet pop sound where they found their mainstream success.

“I’m a punkrocker, yes I am.” In Teddybears’ “Are You Feelin’ It” the group comprises traditional dance hall toasting over a balance of guitar flusters and basic keyboards. The track ultimately finds itself being the ultimate breaking point as to where the group is headed; but furthermore, what the group’s members Patrik Arve, Joakim Åhlund, Klas Åhlund and Olsson feel punk rock to be. It’s not even remotely kosher to think of punk as what the term has come to represent in the past decade, so rather than creating a traditional set of Stooges-styled songs, the group fully embraced one of the last genres that has yet to find long-lasting mainstream success, electronic music. With certain moments and select artists, true, it has topped charts worldwide. But to the vast majority of hip hop, metal, pop or even indie rock fan, electronica has long since gone the way of the dogs. Teddybears are punk rock, yes they are.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]