Swedish Folk Band Overcomes Predictability with Loveliness

Lisa o Piu, When This Was the Future (Subliminal Sounds)

Swedish native Lisa Isaksson apparently began writing songs in a horse stable in a small town on the outskirts of Stockholm. No surprise, then, that everything about Isaksson's band Lisa o Piu is steeped in fey rural authenticity. Delicate minor-key acoustic plunking, check. Declamatory, almost-classical harmonizing, check. Wide-eyed precious hippie ramblings? Well, how about: "Two is/two is/two is/two is/two is/two is/better than one/has been my belief." No way around it: When This Was the Future is an album of pristine tweeness reverent enough to sound like it dropped directly through a wormhole from Britain, circa 1967.

Admittedly, there are moments when the band's faithfulness is maybe a little too spot-on. Even reworking Linda Perhacs' "Chimacum Rain" as a tune called "Equatorial Changes" can't hide the fact that the sparsely echoing, multi-tracked original is a lot more distinctive than Lisa o Piu's smoother variation. Similarly, the synth blips and bloops at the beginning of "And So On" serve mostly to emphasize the predictability of everything else on the set. Still, for predictability, it is quite lovely. When the deft acoustic strumming and whispery flute of "The Party" give way to a ravishing chorus announcing, "We're going to play the most wonderful music you've ever heard," the boast is at least true enough that I'm more inclined to listen than to argue.