El Perro Del Mar’s Sarah Assbring Shares Her Love for Burial’s ‘Untrue’

Swedish indie-chanteuse Sarah Assbring—popularly known as El Perro Del Mar—goes On the Record about the never-ending influence Burial’s 2007 sophomore album, Untrue, exerts on her music. Her latest album, Pale Fire, is out now via The Control Group.

“I’ll show you light now. It burns forever.” Burial’s sophomore album, Untrue, unravels with these words, and in so many ways they reveal everything that this album means to me. How it made my heart break, but also how it made me think about music in a new way. It still does.

I can’t count the times I’ve listened to Untrue since its release in 2007, but I still clearly remember the way I felt the first time I listened to it. There’s so much complex emotion, so much heartfelt melancholy and darkness, and so much love in these songs that the whole of the album transported me to a dark and rainy city of its own design. A place where I felt the completeness of everything Burial commands.

Of course, the notion of sampling R&B vocals seems to have been exhausted since then, but in my estimation no similar statement has come close to what Burial achieved here. There are so many things about Untrue that have influenced me, both consciously and unconsciously, but perhaps the most important is that it turned my ideas about music and its rules upside down.

For me it’s never been about the focus on the dubstep/garage influence—I listen to the album in the same way I listen to a great soul album. I’ve always been into harmonies and surprising ways of driving melody to new places, and that’s one way that Untrue struck me—fragments pulled together would turn into an incredibly exquisite soul song. When I hear “Archangel” or “Untrue,” I respond to them in the same way I do to songs by Nina Simone or Marvin Gaye. For me, it’s just a new kind of soul music. Try to sing along to a song on Untrue and you’ll find how good it feels, how the melodies blend into each other and grow into the most beautiful harmonies.

It’s no coincidence that I’ve begun to experiment with sampling on my new album, Pale Fire. I’ve lived with Untrue close to my heart since 2007 and will keep it there. He showed me light, after all, and it burns forever.

BlackBook Tracks #21: Bringing In The Funk

Hey, how’s your week been? Good? Well, it’s about to get better. Drink some craft beer and listen to these songs. Things are about to get funky.

Jamie Lidell – “What A Shame”

Jamie Lidell moved to Nashville last year to record his forthcoming self-titled album, and “What A Shame” is the first hint at what he’s been up to. It’s a blistering cut from the British-born electro-soul artist, heating things up even more since 2010’s Compass.

School of Seven Bells – “Secret Days”

School of Seven Bells just put out the Put Your Sad Down EP, helmed by a sprawling, majestic title track that clocks in at nearly 13 minutes. For something a little less intimidating, check out another track from the release, “Secret Days,” still a strong listen from the Brooklyn psych-pop duo.

inc. – “5 days”

So, how about that indie R&B scene? L.A. duo inc. are the latest to arrive, and they have a vision that’s dreamy, hazy, and altogether intimate.

Alt-J (feat. Mountain Man) – “Buffalo”

There’s a real cinematic quality to Alt-J’s music, and it’ll be put on full display when this previously unreleased track appears in the upcoming Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper film Silver Linings Playbook. It starts off more airy than what we’re used to hearing from the British art-rockers, but still hints at their characteristic driving low end.

El Perro Del Mar – “Home Is To Feel Like That”

Swedish singer-songwriter El Perro Del Mar’s fifth album, Pale Fire, came out this week. It’s a quiet stunner, and “Home Is To Feel Like That” sees her flirting with electronic glances.

Midnight Magic – “Walking The Midnight Streets”

You need more disco-funk in your life. Here’s the title track from Midnight Magic’s just-released debut LP. It’s a dancefloor-ready good time from a band featuring various DFA alums.

The 1969 Club – “Go Right Ahead”
French garage rock? It’s more likely than you think–or than I thought, anyways. “Go Right Ahead” rips hard, all churning guitars and catchy chorus.


Heems – “Third Thing”


It feels like more rappers have released mixtapes this week than usual? One of them is Heems of Das Racist, who just dropped Wild Water Kingdom. “Third Thing” sees him teaming up with esteemed Italian dance producers Crookers.

Fine Peduncle – “Hymniptera”

Let’s get weird with some sexy, sinister electro-pop. Looping vocals, choppy synths, and pulsing bass form a mysterious world.

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November Music Reviews: Maps, Arms, El Perro Del Mar

The King Khan BBQ Show, Invisible Girl, (In the Red) – Doo-wop garage rock outfit the King Khan & BBQ Show could be the freaky offspring of Frankie Valli and the Ramones, and they’ve got the records (not to mention the semi-legendary live shows) to prove it. The Canadian duo’s latest album includes love ballads (“Third Ave”), get-up-and-dance numbers (“Do the Chop”) and even a track infused with bestial noises (“Animal Party”). Combining nostalgic melodies, surf guitars and edgy distortion, Invisible Girl would make both Frankie and Joey proud. — Hunter Fleetwood

Echo & the Bunnymen, The Fountain, (TBA) Lead singer Ian McCulloch has an ego to rival the Gallagher brothers, but with an album like The Fountain and indebted fans such as Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Killers and the Flaming Lips, it’s hard to blame him for his lack of humility. The 11th studio release from Echo & the Bunnymen is arena-rock at its finest. Flames (or cell phones) will flicker throughout concert halls during the soulful, reflective tracks “Idolness of Gods” and “Forgotten Fields,” while heads will bop along to English-pop grooves “The Fountain” and “Do You Know Who I Am.” — H.F.

Arms, Kids Aflame, (Gigantic) New York indie rock vet Todd Goldstein, of the Harlem Shakes, pops out a solo project that, while prominently featuring guitar twangs and range-running warbles, refuses to settle on one sound, jumping between dance-driven tracks and pin-dropquiet folk. Goldstein’s styles run the gamut, but add up to an effervescent affair with a proper dose of gravity. “Oh sister, say a prayer for me,” he intones on the album highlight “Shitty Little Disco,” to which we say: Amen. — Foster Kamer

El Perro Del Mar, Love is not Pop, (The Control Group) In 2006, El Perro Del Mar, Sarah Assbring’s solo outfit, released a record brimming with beautiful songs distilled from melancholy. Assbring turned layered harmonies and instrumentals into depressing dirges (“God Knows” was the best of the bunch) that were described as Spector-esque. But compared to Love is not Pop, her over-produced third album, those two early records were relatively spare. With the exception of the mysterious “Better Love,” the mournful melodies that were Del Mar’s trademark are drowned out by the bass and percussion of her friend, dancehall producer Rasmus Hägg. Love may not be pop, but this album is; jettisoning the sad-sack act discards the very qualities that made us want to indulge El Perro in the first place. — Mimi Luse

Maps, Turning the Mind, (Mute) James Chapman, who goes by the stage name Maps, follows his acclaimed 2007 debut with a set of thoughtful, trippy space jams. Instead of transforming his melodic mental states into psychedelic snoozefests like some of his shoe-gazing elders (here’s looking at you, My Bloody Valentine and Spiritualized), Chapman injects each song with a shot of user-friendly indie pop. The result is a chemically balanced record that travels just as well on a walk to work as it would on a different kind of trip altogether. — Cayte Grieve

Malakai, Ugly Side of Love, (Domino Records) Two guys from gray-skied Bristol may seem an unlikely pair to turn out a debut record filled with sun-soaked, love-saturated beats, but we’ll take our happy where we can get it. Malakai, which is Hebrew for “angel,” have crafted a reggae-and-rock-influenced, libertine-friendly album that would be the perfect soundtrack to any feel-good summer rom-com. Ugly Side boasts some charmingly carefree tracks, including the beach-centric “Moonsurfin’,” which features the line, “You left your phones and moans behind and headed off for summer climes.” The perfect autumn escape. — Eiseley Tauginas

Harper Simon, Harper Simon, (Vagrant/Tulsi) Take the talented Harper Simon, add a troupe of big-time producers, throw in a banging band and then toss in a little help from the legendary Paul Simon — Harper’s dad — and the result is, unsurprisingly, an effortlessly engaging singer-songwriter debut. If at times the songs sound a bit similar, at least it’s all in the name of heartfelt folk. Lovelorn amateur guitarists will surely study the sheet music of “The Shine,” while “Shooting Star,” one of the album’s strongest tracks, is pure pop magic. — E.T.

A Little Bit in Lykke With Her

When Lykke Li asked the packed crowd at Bowery Ballroom how many of them were in love, we estimate about fifteen people put their hands up, including the couple in front of us (her first, then him). They gazed into each others eyes and kissed as Li reminded them of what they shared. We wanted to smack them. “This song is for everyone who’s not in love,” she announced amid cheers from the dispossessed, us included. Li was the centerpiece to a soiree of Swedish sweeties, her flawless set bookended by Scandinavian songbirds—Anna Ternheim first, and Sarah Assbring last, playing under her nom de plume El Perro Del Mar.

But it was clear who people came to see. While the other sets were marked (or marred) by the din of chatter, Li had everyone enraptured with unstoppable hooks and irresistible pop charm. Prone to breaking into wild fits of spastic dancing, Li is one of those artists who likes to—and knows how to—move to her music. Her set-list was pulled right from the liner notes of her new album Youth Novels, and was backed by a trio of handsome Swedish boys, who lifted her songs from potential acoustic strummers to all-out anthemic wonders. And on songs like “Breaking It Up,” Li sung through a megaphone to match the filtered distortion heard on her album. When the show ended, we wished we had another shot at answering Li’s initial question. This time we would’ve raised our hands.