Finnish duo Icons of Elegance, siblings Anssi and Henri Växby, released their new single ‘Mexico’ this month ahead of the release of forthcoming LP Please Tell Him I Said Hello on Dinner With Daisy Records on 23rd April.
Telling the tale of a friend who dropped everything to search for true love in Central America, ‘Mexico’ rides on bright, dreamy waves of luscious guitar as it unfolds its bittersweet story. “A few years ago, it felt like everyone was talking about Mexico“, explain the band. “‘It’s like a new Berlin, you have to come, everyone’s like you, blah blah blah.’ Mexico looks at this from the perspective of someone dropping everything and leaving for that greener grass, but also from the viewpoint of those of us who were left behind carrying on our normal, grey lives dreaming about the warmth of Mexico”
We’ve definitely been feeling the grey over the past year, so we asked Icons of Elegance to put together a round the world playlist to transport us from the shrunken horizons of our pandemic existance to sunnier climbs.
FROM HELSINKI TO MEXICO CITY
“Snowing down on Helsinki…” and we’re dreaming about the Pacific. Seems like a good place to start as any and it’s also where we’re from originally. This is a great 80s soft rock ballad by Broadcast – not to be confused with that other British Broadcast, also a great band!
Hanna Järver: ‘h e l v e t e‘
Next we’re off to Sweden, which makes sense as we’re half-Swedish. Someone said the reason Swedish pop is doing so well is because it deals with sad, melancholy lyrics wrapped in super positive melodies. That also describes our new album Please Tell Him I Said Hello very well, which deals with themes such as aging, death and the general passing of time – but always in major keys and with big melodies.
The title of this Hanna Järver song translates as hell – also a place to visit, if you’re that way inclined, I guess.
The Cardigans: ‘Daddy’s Car’
More happy Swedish indie pop from The Cardigans in this song which takes us from “Luxembourg to Rome, from Berlin to the moon, from Paris to Lausanne, from Athens to the sun.”
Tahiti 80: ‘Yellow Butterfly’
Tahiti or France, I’d gladly go to either right now. Our favourite Gallic chamber popsters.
Ken Stringfellow: ‘Spanish Waltz’
Another power pop genius, who is also based in France. Had a serious Ken Stringfellow obsession about 20 years ago when we started our band and Touched, the album this Spanish waltz is taken from was a favourite.
The Bangles: ‘Walk Like An Egyptian‘
From France and Spain to the other side of the Mediterranean courtesy of everyone’s favourite 80s Californians The Bangles.
Blur: ‘Under the Westway’
Just to keep things real, we’re back to reality and grey London, where half of the band lives. This latter day Blur gem sounds perhaps more like a solo Albarn track, but it’s unjustly overlooked nonetheless with its lyrics about lying under the Westway looking at the stars. You might hear echos of it on ‘Sliver of Hope’ off our new album as we listened to it a lot around the time of making that one.
Tony Joe White: ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’
Glen Campbell: ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’
Art Garfunkel: ’99 Miles from LA’
Paul Simon: ‘Graceland’
America! We have a soft spot for country and soft 70s sounds. Starting with Tony Joe White in Georgia, it’s then off to Phoenix with the ultimate leaving-song courtesy of Glen Campbell. That song was written by one of our absolute favourite songwriters Jimmy Webb, who also worked a lot with Art Garfunkel, so from LA we’re back to the southern states and ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon. See what we did there?
Crowded House: ‘Weather With You’
We’re getting nearer to our final destination Mexico and the weather is definitely getting better. Also an obsession of ours, Neil and Tim Finn are another set of brothers writing overly melodic songs of the finest sort. A while back we were asked to contribute a song to a tribute album and chose ‘Growing Pains’ by Tim Finn. We liked it so much it ended up on our own album too.
The Beatles: ‘Here Comes The Sun’
Well, here comes the sun. Nearly there, but first it’s a quick dip to Abbey Road. As payment for some session work we did at the studio, we got to spend an afternoon at this most legendary of all legendary studios to record our own material. Needless to say, we were quite excited. You can listen to ‘Two Coffee Morning’ off the album to hear the actual Lady Madonna-piano on one of our tracks.
Icons of Elegance: ‘Mexico’
This song is about leaving everything behind for greener grass. It’s written not only from the viewpoint of the person leaving, but also from the perspective of those of us who are left behind carrying on our normal, grey lives dreaming about the warmth of Mexico.
Sir Douglas Quintet: ‘Meet Me On Stockholm’
I guess it’s back to where we started, so ”meet me in Stockholm… take a real slow boat to Helsinki town…live your life with me the Scandinavian way.”
Icons of Elegance’s new album Please Tell Him I Said Hello is out via Dinner With Daisy Records on 23rd April.
Find out more about Icons of Elegance on their official website.
Introduction by Paul Maps
Photograph by Niklas Rosström