A good album will whisk the listener away to a different time, place, or both. For some reason, Sambassadeur's sophomore LP, Migration, makes me daydream about zipping around Europe on a Vespa, decked out with a badass scarf around my neck. This Swedish pop group easily led an impressive movement of home recording artists back in 2003, and put themselves on the indie map in '05 with the release of their Between The Lines EP and self-titled full-length. Due to the nature of their self-recorded tunes, the band was labeled as lo-fi-twee, which was never their intention.

With Migration, they decided to head into a proper studio, working with producer Mattias Glaca (Dungen) to help polish up their pop sound. The results are of one of the first great albums of the New Year. Hints of disco and ethereal guitars make this a treat, especially when combined with the whispered vocals of Anna Perssons. The strumming of a bright acoustic guitar kicks things off on "The Park," with sunny melodies that make me long for springtime to hurry and break up these gray winter skies.

"Subtle Changes," the first single on Migration, showcases their new polished, well-produced sound quite nicely. The arrangements are fuller, yet remains far from being overdone or too slick. The sound is still warm and inviting, with hints of synth strings adding just a touch of color. This also marks the first appearance of a saxophone on a Sambassadeur track. Nicely done!

A favorite moment appears on "Final Say," which balances out the poptastic vibe of the track with echoed vocals. It is infectious yet sonically breathtaking, two realms that hardly every match up quite like this. That is what Sambassadeur does so well, keeping indie pop sounding so perfectly crafted and interesting enough for repeated listens. Labrador Records has a true gem in their hands with Migration. 2008 is off to a fantastic start!

MP3 Download - "Subtle Changes"