Heikki, the collaboration between the Concretes' Maria Eriksson and producer Jari Haapalainen, is virtually a Swedish indiepop minisupergroup. Their first fulllength (and Stateside debut) Heikki 2 shows off the duo's unique mix of '60s pop, folk and country influences. Initially, the way the album switches between sugarbuzz pop and pastoral ballads seems a little jumbled, but with repeat listens, it feels more eclectic than scattered. Eriksson's sweetbutstrong vocals, aided and abetted by the Tiny's Ellekari Larsson and Tove Leander's backing harmonies, hold Heikki 2 together despite its stylistic shifts. Eriksson and Haapalainen have affection and understanding for early '60s pop that is second to none, as well as an understanding of how to adapt it into something that sounds fresh and timeless at once. Indeed, songs like the fantastic album opener "Former Hero" and "Give it Back To You" are so strong and immediately catchy that they almost overpower Heikki 2's more delicate moments; however, ballads like "Election Day" and the gorgeous, unconventionally romantic "I Can't Stand (To See Someone Hurt)" are also standouts, albeit gentle ones. Though the band's pop skills are undeniably impressive, it's equally impressive that Heikki's forays into other styles never seem selfconscious or forced. "Still You Don't Know Me" sounds like it could appear on some lost, alternate version of Carole King's Tapestry, while "Lovely Hands" starts out slow and sprawling and turns into a breathless, joyous jamboree. Freeflowing song structures and unusual arrangments, which include upright bass, melodicas, trumpets and accordions give songs like "Smiling Liar" and "Don't Ask Me Why" a sweet, homespun feel. The bonus tracks on the US version of the album feel a littletacked on and make it seem like the album has three endings, but "Nothing Lasts" and "Tender is the Night (The Long Fidelity)" are good enough to justify their inclusion. Though Heikki 2 is definitely a pop album, it's an unconventional one that isn't always about immediate gratification. Still the band tries so many things on the album and ends up pulling nearly all of them off that it can't help but be a refreshing listen.
- Heather Phares, All Music Guide