Some days before the release of Travelling, the The Daily Roxette team “got together” again to do another (hopefully) classic review of Roxette’s new and highly anticipated album. Travelling is a follow-up to the 1992 album Tourism. Will it hold up? Is it awesome? Does Per wear black nailpolish? The questions are many, and there are actually some answers! Scroll down to the bottom to read our final verdict. Enjoy! (Or feel free to hate it.) The reviewers are Judith Seuma, Kai-Uwe Heinze, Colin van der Bel, Paul Belben and Thomas Evensson. Oh and by the way, click the track titles to hear Roxette's comments about the songs.
1. Me & You & Terry & Julie
Thomas: Per said “This is the craziest song we've recorded in ages - and maybe the best?” Crazy: yes, the best: no. Strange choice for an album opener. But I like it, it’s no “Cadillac,” that’s for sure! Wonderful but weird keyboard solo from Clair. Kudos to Clair for hating “Cadillac.”
Paul: Hey, I still love “Cadillac”! As I have mentioned to you before Thomas, I love this too. The verse with Per & Marie’s voices harmonizing is superb! I think it’s a brave move to open the album up with a song like this, but I think it works. It works because it shows that this is a ‘new’ Roxette. Roxette: ‘The Band’
Thomas: You're nuts. Yes a fresh move so to speak. The more I hear it the more it grows on me. The chorus is a bit like “Soul Deep,” at least the beat.
Kai: This solo has a touch of GT to it. Starting off with a tune that very much reminds me of the middle eight of “Wish You The Best”... later, turning into a “Shopping With Mother” kind of crazy blend of instruments. What a mix, fitting the constantly altering themes of the song! Which to me creates the illusion of a small town train station platform. Calm atmosphere, from time to time interrupted by trains passing through, arriving, people rushing by. Just close your eyes...
Colin: It’s crazy to start an album with a song like this, all quiet at the start and then kick in the drums! It’s really upbeat and uplifting. I can see them start a live show with this one?
Thomas: Not unless it’s a world hit, ha ha!
Paul: Gotta agree with Thomas - can’t see them opening concerts with this. However, it would make a nice change to “Dressed For Success!”
Kai: Word, Paul. Much better would it have fit to the end of the album. It’s more like a reprise. Not melody-wise, rather it sounds like a summary of this very unusual album. Yet I think we have a much better album closer with “IMHBL”, more about that later maybe.
Does anyone else hear a tad of Gessle’s “Hold On My Heart” demo in the chorus?
Judith: I don’t see a big issue with this song being the opener of the album. But I’ve never been picky on this, I look more at the middle and end of the album, some albums tend to get boring to the extent that you press the “replay album” before it has even finished. I must confess it happens to me sometimes with a couple of Rox & related too. My summary: great start! Makes me want to go on listening. I like the "hidden" sounds.
Paul: Big yawn anyone...??
Paul: I was referring to the yawn in the 2nd verse...!
Thomas: Ha ha! Duh!
2. Lover Lover Lover
Kai: Ah, this is my train! Steam train, I’d say. Laid back but strong.
Thomas: What a song! I hear Jeff Lynne and George Harrison in this. The guitar solo is sweeeet. A mid-tempo track which I would say sounds a tad like “Church of Your Heart”... if you know what I mean, or rather like the Traveling Wilburys. One of my favorites.
Paul: The production of this song is superb, along with another fine example of Per and Marie’s voices harmonizing wonderfully.
Colin: The first time I heard this song I wasn't convinced, but like some of those songs do, it grew on me and eventually found myself humming the melody.
Kai: A tune that will stay in your head for a while. Good old guitar pop. The campfire kind of song. Worth being played in a loop.
Thomas: Indeed! This song sticks in your mind...
Paul: The instrumental section is fantastic. Can imagine this will be added to the concert setlist, especially has Per has mentioned several times that this is his favorite on the album.
Thomas: Yes, Per also says he expects it to show up live.
Kai: Oh, another nice sing-along-song in this case.
Judith: When I heard the 30-second snippet I thought “Beatles!”. I still do after having heard the full song. I have a thing with this album: I still haven’t made up my mind which song (of the new ones) I like best. As Kai says, very much of a campfire-sing-along feeling with this one. Nice!
3. Turn of the Tide
Colin: One of those elusive songs from way back. Most of us knew the title but had never heard the song. I always thought the demo sounded a bit too high for Per’s voice, happy to hear Marie performing this one. Still, for some reason the song doesn’t really do it for me - I rather skip to the next one!
Thomas: I like it! It’s like “I’m Glad You Called” from Charm School only better I guess. Acoustic guitars (“steadily” played by Per, Chris and Clair) with strings, drums and Marie’s voice. Clarence plays around with his ancient keyboards in this as well.
Paul: I got those goosebumps when I heard this song for the first time. I’m guessing this is the track that Per was talking about when he said that Marie has just recorded her best vocals since 2000. The voice sounds amazing! A very typical Roxette ballad, which could have been recorded in 1991, 1999 or 2001. In other words: timeless!
Kai: A ride on the bicycle through the fields. Sunny, airy, slightly windy, relaxed. It’s the way they produced ballads during CBB times. Strings, hi-hats, supported by gently weeping guitars. Dreamy mood with a lot of power thanks to Marie’s voice.
Judith: I had to gasp for air when I heard the song for the first time. Imagine: my mouth open, goosebumps and tears. “What has she done here?” Marie at her best. One of Roxette’s big ballads, but fresh, different. Excellent.
Thomas: What I like most about it is that it starts like “I’m Glad You Called” but grows and explodes almost like “Listen To Your Heart.”
4. Touched by the Hand of God
Paul: And here we go - this song is just fantastic! In my opinion, their best song they’ve recorded since the mid-’90s. Everything in this song just works - the backing vocals, the music style, the main vocals. This is Roxette at their best! I truly think this should have been released as the first single.
Colin: This song is a killer! One of the best uptempo songs Roxette has done in a long time. Lots of energy, happiness and jumping around. The title change seems unnecessary to me, but who really cares about that? Make this one a single, EMI!
Thomas: By golly... One of the best tracks on the album. Instant likeability. Fast, sharp, edgy, and a great melody. You can’t go wrong with a ‘57 Chevrolet! This is totally old skool Roxette, but today. “Hey sweet Prudence, won’t you come out to play out of charm school?” “Sweet Prudence” is an album by Aby Wolf, (among other things...) for your information.
Paul: Show off! I’m glad this song was left off Charm School if it meant that it turned out to be this good!
Kai: This is like driving on the left lane of your local highway in a “flat, red, something-like-that” car that actively supports fun of this kind. That's the "Sleeping In My Car" of this album. Catchy, powerful, great! It all fits in here.
Judith: You can tell the song was supposed to be on Charm School. But as Paul said, I am glad they recorded it again, Rox 100 %! Single anyone? (Paul: It MUST be a single!!)
When I heard the “take my breath away” I had to laugh, would have been somehow funny to have two songs on the album with the same sentence. It’s even recorded in the same style, Per singing it first and then Marie repeating.
Thomas: They recorded it three times for Charm School, to no avail. This time around they nailed it. It also contains Per’s favorite word of lately - “mesmerizing.”
5. Easy Way Out
Colin: The atmosphere in this song is great. It pulls me back into that ‘Son Of A Plumber’ world. Then again, it would’ve fit great on F5F! if it had been in Swedish.
Thomas: Hmm, I don’t hear the GT vibes but the song is awesome. I also don’t hear the country vibe Per talks about. What I do hear is a folksy song with a terrific flute dancing around in the background. Also a Dobro, if that’s the right word. Definitely not a single, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad at all. Think a happier version of “The Heart Shaped Sea.”
Paul: Yeah, it’s not a country song. But it is most definitely in the vibe of SOAP. I like it, got a summery feel to the track, but it does sound like a Per solo song. That isn’t a bad thing though.
Kai: A horse back ride through the forest. Medieval touch to it. Actually a gap filler between two up-tempo songs. But it has its own qualities although it sounds a bit misplaced here. Country song? No, rather... folk?
Judith: One of those sweet acoustic Per songs with a touch of country or maybe medieval? If I had to choose the weakest one I think I’d take this one. And no, I don’t hear GT here either, more SOAP and En händig man.
Thomas: Per says he thinks this song is one of the best on the album. I really like this laid back sound.
Judith: haha! It's not the first time Per and I don't agree...
Kai: Yep, it is a great one. It would stand out even on an album like SOAP or Mazarin. It just feels a bit lost on this record, though.
6. It's Possible (version one)
Paul: “....I just wanna Oh Oh Oh!”. Only Roxette could record a song like this and make it sound good. My only complaint is that it’s too damn short!
Thomas: Damn straight!
Colin: As it turns out, I think this was a great choice for a first single. I love the production on this one! For the first time, I didn’t skip the first single track when I listened to the album for the first time!
Thomas: Totally with you! Very “Dangerous” very “How Do You Do!” but 2012.
Colin: Yes! When it starts, I start tapping on something - which is a good thing!
Paul: Do I think it’s a stronger first single than “Radio”? Actually, no...
Judith: Another Rox 100 % - perfect for the first single. Direct simple catchy pop, feel like jumping and dancing straight away. I couldn’t take the “doo doo doo’s” off my head for two weeks! On a side note, I really like demos, but the one to this one isn’t very special, but it's still nice to have it. Would be nice live.
Thomas: Terrible demo, but that’s what they are - demos.
7. Perfect Excuse
Paul: When I heard that this was to be a duet between Marie & Helena, I expected something very similar in vocal layout to Per’s solo version. What we got is Marie on lead and Helena doing backing vocals. Lovely version of this song though, but I prefer Per’s Party Crasher version. Marie is sounding fantastic on this song though, her vocals are clearly live here just like “I’m Glad You Called.”
Colin: I prefer the Party Crasher version as well, though it's still a great track.
Judith: You remember my reaction to “Turn of the Tide?” Multiply it by 10! With this and "I'm Glad You Called" I cannot help thinking Party Crasher should be recorded again as Roxette. What Marie has done to two of those tracks is amazing. Makes me also long for a Marie solo album.
Thomas: Not even close to a bad song, and Marie is amazing here as well, but I feel a bit bored with it. It wasn’t a favorite of mine on Party Crasher either.
8. Excuse Me, Sir, Do You Want Me to Check on Your Wife?
Thomas: Another killer track. One of Per’s longest titles ever? This could easily be in a movie. Haunting is a good word. “A fake guitarist in an ‘80s band...” Gee I wonder who? Ha ha! The lyrics are fitting. The man’s response to the title question: “Naaah, I’m sure she’s doing alright” but one gets the feeling he’s not really certain. This is another mid-tempo track that not many can do as well as Roxette. Yes this is very Tom Petty, but better.
Paul: I was surprised by this one too. I thought it was going to be an uptempo track, but this reminds me of ‘Wish You The Best’. There is a more mature vibe running through the new tracks on this album, and its displayed best here in this song. I absolutely love this track. The piano-led intro is fantastic, and I love the way the song builds up to a huge ending. Classic stuff, and I can dream that this will be performed live one day...
Thomas: I demand to hear it live.
Colin: I demand this entire album live! Great stuff!
Kai: When I first read the title, I wondered how that would be singable. Unlike “I Never Quite Got Over The Fact That The Beatles Broke Up” which is as long, here they really do use that long line in the chorus. And it does work. May I say it’s the catchiest song of this album? It builds up tension from the beginning, it’s so SOAPish, it makes you want to sing along. Best song I have heard from the band since long. You need to be brave to release this as a single one day just because nobody out there would Roxette expect to sound like this. Any newcomer band might get huge airplay with a song like that, though. So if EMI is open to experiments, this may be the AC summer hit 2012.
Thomas: The line is from a waitress asking Per about Åsa (Per's wife...)
Judith: I thought this one would be a ballad. Something in between then. At this point I have to say I think Per’s songwriting, and I mean the lyrics, are getting better and better. Or they have always been great but now they are more in the center. And I just love it when he makes a minimal change in the chorus lyrics. It’s those little things...
Thomas: Spot on.
9. Angel Passing
Kai: A wooden rowing boat gently jumping on the calm waves of a wide open lake on a hot summer day. Take some time to imagine this. Now play the song.
Colin: This might just well be my favorite track on the album, just as “Easy Way Out” this sounds like ‘Son Of A Plumber’ and is just a beautiful song. An emotional song, Helena’s backing vocals on this one are angelic - her voice sounds magical together with Per’s.
Thomas: Ethereal is a word that comes to mind. Per sings this sublime ballad wonderfully while Marie and Helena saturate the song with their angelic voices. And again Clarence with his magic fingers.
Paul: First few listens and I wasn’t really sure about the song. Listening a few more times, and I adore it. Per sounds fantastic on this track. It does sound very Per-solo though, mainly because of the use of Helena’s backing vocals. Replace with Marie and it would be great!
Kai: At first listening, I was still under the impression of “Sir”, so I thought that “Angel” was still part of this song. Is it the way Per sings here just like in the song before? Is it the dreamy illusion that still lingers? I mean, how can a band that is certainly caught in the hectic schedule of touring all over the world, jumping time zones and hotel rooms, write such a calming, relaxing, down-to-earth piece of art like this? Lovely.
Thomas: Yes it is amazing how they can switch between styles as much as they do.
Judith: My first thought when I heard “She’s an angel passing through the room” was “hm? Per’s 'Ängeln i rummet'?" Beautiful lyrics and vocals and music. One of those tracks that grow in you with the time.
10. Stars [live from Dubai soundcheck]
Colin: I remember back in the HAND days there were lots of rumors about Stars (guitar version). It should’ve been part of the first recordings of HAND, before they decided to change the album and go more digital. It was then supposed to be on a vinyl edition of a single I guess, but that didn’t work out. I guess this is what that must’ve sounded like! I like the intro and it’s nice to hear a sound-check version - it’s not really live but not studio either, somewhere in between.
Thomas: Well, it is live, that’s for sure. I get a little U2-feeling from this one. There’s this classic track recorded at one of their sound-checks, I think it’s called “Baby Please Come Home” and it has the same vibe in it. “Stars” has never sounded better, and will probably not be surpassed anytime soon.
Colin: No more children’s choir - instead we get phat drums and great synth! The guitar rhythm really pushes the song to a new level indeed!
Paul: I think I have finally gotten over my issues with this song after hearing this version. Why did they lose the guitars in the first place? This is so much better and I can actually listen to the song now. Love it!
Kai: If this is fully live - hats off! This distinguishes Roxette from other bands. The sound, the voices, the whole ensemble is terrific. I have never really thought of “Stars” as one of their best songs, at least not the way I have heard it so far. Actually, to me it’s quite a vulnerable song that has been destroyed by awkward arrangements. The live track is surely far better than the album version. My imagination of a perfect production of “Stars” just needs one word: Lullaby. Anyway, now we got this one. Where is the dashboard to tap on?
Thomas: I love the slight back-beat.
Judith: “Stars” was always on and off for me. Sometimes I liked it, and more often than not I thought “what were they thinking with the choir and this disco sound?” Not to comment on the video. I realized in the showcase in Barcelona back in 2001 that the song is actually good, and when I heard the live 2011 version I was like “yessss!” Great guitars and great vocal performance of Marie. I think this is the way this song should have been from the beginning!
11. The Weight of the World
Paul: Is it just me, but can anyone hear a difference in this version to the old B-side?
Thomas: It feels a bit more airy to me, but that can easily be my imagination.
Paul: I don’t know - it sounds exactly the same to me... All they’ve added is the 2 second countdown at the start.
Kai: It’s sounds more modern. Would’ve been hard to further improve it anyway. I’m glad they don’t kill all their good songs in the studios anymore.
Judith: I am also searching for the differences.. Nice that this nice Roxettish track gets more attention and reaches probably more people by being included on this album. For “hard core” fans one of the tracks using up space, especially after realizing that it sounds the same.
Thomas: That’s exactly what Per said!
Judith: OK, so here we seem to agree.
Paul: I think the vocals may be a bit louder than the old version, but you can’t really call it a new version. Saying that though, good to have it on an album now.
12. She's Got Nothing on (But the Radio) [live in Rio]
Thomas: Rather pointless version. I like the original but this doesn’t add to it. Noisy mix at that. I do appreciate that we don’t get another “The Look” or “Joyride,” but why not “7Twenty7” instead of this?
Paul: Ha ha I’m surprised it wasn’t “The Look” actually. Maybe this was included over “7Twenty7” as that was on the deluxe version of Charm School? Either way, it’s good to be able to listen to a live version of “...Radio” but, as Thomas has said, the mix is weird. Loud and messy would be words I’d use to describe it.
Kai: Ouch, I can hear Christoffer’s finger tip bleeding. Well, yes, it’s noisy. But why polish that raw sound? This is what it was like when you were on the concert. That is the commuter train of this album: packed, dense, noisy, loud, hard to get out once you’re inside. And the only logical choice for a live song, as it has been pointed out already.
Thomas: I like the raw sound, but I don’t like the mix. Yes, Per said that the reason there are so few live tracks on Travelling is that they released the live CD with Charm School. I can live with this track.
Colin: I like this one!
Judith: And voilá! I feel like being back at front row! I really enjoyed the craziness of this song live, simply great that it made it on the album. Christoffer rules!
13. See Me
Thomas: It’s definitely better than the old demo. More airy, but still kind of a dud in my book. Huge improvement though. I don’t need to skip this track anymore.
Paul: I’m sorry, but I still skip this track. I was never a fan, and I was slightly disappointed when I found out that this was one of the songs that was being reworked. The thing I dislike the most is Marie’s vocals. She sounds bored in my opinion.
Thomas: This is an old Gyllene song, by the way. Well, the same lyrics at least.
Paul: I did not know that!
Colin: The melody of the original GT song was completely different, but I'd like to hear a new recording of that, too! This recording still sounds a bit demo-ish to me.
Judith: Funny, they tricked me with this one! I really had to compare the old and the new songs to convince myself that Marie’s vocals were not recorded again. But it IS really the old Marie voice recording. Very interesting what a new mix and recording of the music can do.
Kai: Nice, refurbished version. This song had been good as a single already, once more I'm glad they kept its soul alive.
14. It's Possible [version two]
Thomas: You have already heard the single. This is, to me, not as great. Don’t get me wrong it’s still very very nice, but I prefer Version One. I don’t hear “Hjärta utan hem” in it, but more En händig man really. Yes yes I know, tomato, potato... Bouncy and cute version. Sadly no do-do-do-do’s.
Colin: I can see this version being played in an acoustic, small set-up as an encore during a summer show perhaps. I like it a lot, but like you I also prefer version one.
Kai: Yes, once you know the first version you’ll find this one here less interesting. The way Marie sings here fits the first version better, the acoustic guitars don't really go together with her ambitious kind of singing. And if they had asked me, I would have switched the numbering. With #2 being weaker than #1, it looks like a step back. Too bad those reviews always come too late...
Paul: Well, I quite like this version. Is it as good as version one? Possibly. In my opinion anyway. The little added bits to the Marie’s vocals add something (albeit small) to the song, so does the loss of the ‘do-do-dos’. I’m guessing my favorite version of the song will depend on my mood at the time.
Judith: I also prefer the first one. It's nice, but I definitely miss the “doo-doo-doos” here! Marie’s part sounds the same on both songs to me? Have we ever had 3 versions of the same song in such a short time? I actually love this, it’s like a progress. Good that they couldn’t make up their minds and decided to release both, imagine we would have been left without “Doo-Doos”!
15. It Must Have Been Love [live in Rotterdam]
Thomas: Yikes!! You think you’ve heard this song until death do you part, but hearing this I don’t know what to think... What a version! Marie sings like her life depended on it, and it’s amazing! Marie’s voice combined with the NOTP strings and the keyboards just gives this song a totally new life. I’d vote this to be a single if it weren’t for it being so old.
Kai: The Rolls Royce of this album. Have a glass of cool champagne, light a candle if the driver agrees. Just enjoy. Marvellous. Never been a huge fan of the song either, now it’s the new production behind it that makes it worth listening to again. Somehow, it's a stripped down version, on the other hand it sounds very enhanced. Single? It's great, it's wonderful, it's phantastic... but it wouldn't work well as a single in today's radio formats.
Paul: Another bout of disappointment hit me when I heard this song was being included on yet another album. That was before hearing this version. Hearing Marie sing this song like this again after so many years is just fantastic. The NOTP arrangement works really well with Roxette’s music and I’m glad we’ve got a little piece of that on an album now.
Colin: A perfect song to close the album, I love this version of the song. New live album, anyone?
Judith: When I read that IMHBL live would be on the album I thought I would end up hating this song. How many times can one release it and listen to it? So there you go, I thought, another album I would not listen until the end. But I started to change my mind the moment I heard the snippet and definitely when I heard the full song. What a version! NOTP was huge, it meant a lot to many of us, and the song brought back memories from that tour. You have to imagine, a venue with thousands of people, many of them attending not because of Roxette, and when this song came in.. ooh.. goosebumps! I remember I cried a lot during that tour, of happiness, of course. Everybody singing, standing to this song, lighters (or cell phones) on... One of those moments you feel really proud of being a Roxette fan.
Lover Lover Lover [T&A demo] - iTunes Bonus
Me & You & Terry & Julie [demo] - Vinyl Bonus Track
Charm School [demo] - Vinyl Bonus Track
Colin: I think this is the strongest album Roxette (or Per) has made in years. It has all the best parts from the previous albums - the raw production of Party Crasher, the soothing atmosphere of Son Of A Plumber, a dash of Gyllene Tider’s summer vibe and - last but not least - the fresh and powerful sound of Roxette’s current live line-up! A culmination of the best!
Thomas: I imagine in my mind that this is how Roxette wanted Charm School to be. This is easily Roxette’s best album since Crash!Boom!Bang! (or maybe Have A Nice Day) in my book. I still am not 100 % happy with the production as I think the production team C&C&P is stuck in a rut. Surely Per disagrees with that. This is miles better than the last album though. Great new songs combined with not at all bad older songs. The only song that stands out, in a less great way, on the album is “Radio” really. Noisy, cluttered mix. Other media has reviewed this album as “same-old same-old Roxette, decent but yawn” but I think they are being unfair, since this is, to me, far away from same-old Roxette. Marie sings better than ever, and Per is no slouch either, in fact he's doing a good job with the axe as well as the singing.
And about the demos, the bonus tracks - they are quite uninteresting. Basic Per demos of later date. Only interesting if you want to compare to the released versions. Except for “Lover Lover Lover” which is rather nice.
Good job Roxette! I give it 4.5/5.
Paul: Well, this is truly a fantastic album. The ‘bubble-gum’ pop is gone (except for “Me & You & Terry & Julie”) and what’s in its place is a more mature style of pop music which, as this album shows, Roxette is at their best at producing. Marie hasn’t sounded this good for a long time, especially on the uptempo tracks. Per is sounding pretty great as well. The band seem so much more confident than on Charm School, this World Tour is doing them wonders. We’ve got longer songs and more real instruments than Charm School - things that we’ve longed for. My only complaint is the running order. I think the tracks should be in a different order. Mix the tracks up a bit (like Tourism) and it would be even better. This album could win the band more fans if it receives the exposure and success that it deserves! I get a feeling when the album finishes though: Where can Roxette go from here? 4.9/5 from me. (due to running order! ha ha)
Kai: What a journey through the styles! Compared to the albums before, this one sounds more like a mix tape. They took their best ideas and created what I would call the most mature Roxette album ever. It’s not as easy listening as SOAP but it lives from its vibes. Still I have my problems finding a red line through the songs. On the other hand, maybe it’s exactly this permanent change of styles and speeds that brings in the “travelling” mood: new findings all the way, it’s like you go from west coast to east coast and on the way you have to cross the mountains. First, I wanted deny this record being a concept album, it was too jumpy... but now I do think it is one. Travelling means to be open for changes. And this album is.
Judith: I think this is definetely one of the best albums Roxette has done. You feel they are now back on track working together, and I like the new more relaxed sound, if you can call it like that. Maybe even more confident. I like the mix, and the fact that they sing together in many of the songs, they play with the combination of their voices and that in a way the lyrics have a more important role. I am not sure if I have felt so much like in a rollercoaster as with this one. Up shouting dancing jumping laughing - down relaxing, crying, deep feelings all the way, but still a happy album which very well captures the mood of the last year(s if you count 2010). It brought back a lot of memories and it makes me feel happy and proud once more of this great band. I definitely look forward to more of this! I also like that the band has a main role in the album as well, so their pictures on the cover make sense. Thank you for the music!