Indie Music is Pretty Swede – The Swedish Indie Music Empire

By Ian Dougherty

When it comes to indie music, there are many hotbeds of talent but Sweden isn’t normally one you would naturally think of. Unfortunately, the music history of that nation appears to start and end with Abba for many people, but over the past decade or so, there have been a growing number of bands from Sweden impacting on the indie world.

The most noticeable would be The Cardigans who achieved massive worldwide fame with their ‘Lovefool’ single and blend of charming and slightly tween indie-pop. Perhaps as a reaction to their fame, The Cardigans changed their style, their music got harder and Nina Persson went from blonde to brunette. They may not feature on the radio as much today as they used to but the band still draws a fairly large crowd to any festival at which they perform.

If that was all that Sweden contributed to indie music, it would be a poor return, but when you consider the following acts, you will realize just how many of your favorite tracks have hailed from Sweden:

  • The Wannadies
  • Peter, Bjorn and John
  • The Hives
  • The Concretes
  • Love Is All
  • The Shout out Louds
  • I’m From Barcelona
  • Jose Gonzalez
  • The Knife

For such a short space of time that is an impressive list of bands and you may be familiar with some of these songs:

‘Young Folks’ by Peter, Bjorn and John

You may not know the title but as soon you hear the whistling section of ‘Young Folks’ you will know exactly what the song is and recall what a phenomenon it was at the time. The track came second in the NME’s list of best songs of 2006 and fifth in the Pitchfork review of tracks from 2006.

‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ by The Hives

Not many bands could announce themselves as your new favorite band and keep a straight face but The Hives aren’t like many other bands. Filled with a confidence that no other band seems capable of matching this track captured the garage rock revival of the early 2000’s to perfection. The snarling guitar riff and stop-start sections provide the perfect accompaniment to Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s trademark yelps and screams.

‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ by The Concretes

Starting off with a guitar riff that could almost have come from the Jesus and Mary Chain, it is a shock when the sweet vocals of Victoria Bergsman kicks in and transforms the song into a delightful and melodic upbeat number. The frantic drum build up to the payoff line for the chorus is joyous and although the band has ploughed on since this 2003 release, they have been unable to match its overall quality.

‘Heartbeats’ by Jose Gonzalez

Although this song was written by fellow Swedes, The Knife, Jose Gonzalez brought the track to a wider audience. The almost mourning feel of Gonzalez’s downbeat vocals mixed with a quiet acoustic backing ensures this is a song equipped to tug at your heartstrings. Appearing in a major commercial gave the track worldwide exposure and Jose’s brilliant cover of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Hand on Your Heart’ proved he could take any song and turn it into a downbeat classic.

This is by no means all that Swedish indie has to offer the world but it does offer a fantastic place to start checking this vibrant indie scene in Scandinavia out.

Ian Dougherty is a freelance music writer and lover from the United Kingdom. Dougherty has written for well known music magazines, Ezines, and websites for over fifteen years. For the latest in indie music and indie band reviews, visit, where bands keep more from each digital music download.

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