Formerly of Swedish electro-pop duo The Tough Alliance, Eric Berglund now promises to “make your head spin so much you feel like hopping between neon glowing islands on a quad bike” with Wonderland, the second album released under his flamboyant CEO alter-ego. While such a claim sounds slightly absurd on paper, it’s one which begins to make sense once you’ve heard the album’s eight other-worldly, colourful and utterly chaotic tracks in full.
The follow-up to 2010’s White Magic begins fairly innocuously with the chugging glam-rock beats, lolloping synths and happy-go-lucky harmonies of opener “Whorehouse” recalling the schlager-pop for which CEO’s homeland used to be renowned. But following the shimmering electronica of “Harakiri,” the first of several dreamlike instrumentals which offer a welcome breather from all the restlessness, Wonderland descends into bedlam.
“Mirage” combines the exuberant melodies of Passion Pit with an array of tribal chants and a spooky synth riff which could have been lifted from a classic John Carpenter horror. The title track is a frenetic foray into the kind of relentlessly bouncy techno that Scooter built a career on which bizarrely opens with a clowder of meowing cats, while closer “OMG” is an aptly-titled whirlwind of harps, hip-hop beats and howls which sounds like crunk maestro Lil Jon barking over a Mew-esque prog-rock ballad.
It’s all completely bonkers, of course, while the equal interludes/songs ratio means that Wonderland feels more like a stretched-out EP than a conventional studio effort. But apart from a few jarring moments, most notably the shrieks and yelps which interrupt the New Age vibes of “In A Bubble On A Stream,” CEO’s abundance of ideas all hang together surprisingly well.