Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Teddybears: Soft Machine [Big Beat/Atlantic, 2006]
By now we've met so many arty rockboys turned poppy tune phreaks that there's nothing special conceptually about this danceable Stockholm trio, debuting Stateside after starting as a hardcore band 15 years ago. What distinguishes them is execution. This isn't the "different sound" they advertise, especially in its electropop moments, but it isn't just more of the same. It's a hell of a lot more of the same--super-catchy, crammed with guest vocals. Expertly of course, they tone up or smooth down the catchiest songs from 2000's E.U-only Rock 'n' Roll Highschool for their crack at America, where the TV revenues they love are even more lovable. Mixes are brightened, grooves tightened, vocals changed: fresh recruit Neneh Cherry turns "Yours to Keep" sunny and sublime, and Iggy Pop rocks the postpunk "Punkrocker." There's ace new material too. But their best trick is doing dancehall right. Who knew Elephant Man was such a friendly guy? Who knew Swedes could toast at all? [Rolling Stone: 3.5]