The Shermans - Happiness is Toy Shaped

By liz

When I was in Tokyo earlier this year, I found a fantastic compilation called 'Airpop Terminal 2' with a rather frightening photo on the cover of a 'jet blue' plane flying in front of the twin towers in NYC. Despite the ominous image of the cover art (released on the German label "Apricot" at the beginning of 2001), I was intrigued by the huge diversity of musicians on the 2-disc set. I was pleasantly surprised that my favorite Chicagoans INSTA had rated well enough to get on a comp with BIRDIE, EGGSTONE, CINNAMON, et al. Yet above all else, the biggest joy on the album was a little Motown inspired ditty by THE SHERMANS... so 2 shermans cd's and a single later... I'm hooked.
(Shelflife 035)

The Shermans are entirely Swedish (including a former member of Red Sleeping Beauty) but wear their Phil Spector, Beach Boys and Motown influences on their sleeve with definite pride. Their sunshiney 3rd album "Happiness is Toy Shaped" came out in the US on Shelflife last fall. Fitting in nicely with many of the current twee-indie bands, THE SHERMANS could live happily in the same sphere as artists like THE AISLER'S SET, CALL AND RESPONSE, THE LUCKSMITHS, GIRLFRENDO, BIRDIE, THE SATURDAY PEOPLE, THE LESLIES, CLUB 8, ADVENTURES IN STEREO, etc etc. Strumming guitars, simple piano melodies, and multi-tracked harmonies on the vocals of Ingela Matsson create beautiful stories of melancholy and the complexities of human behavior.

I realize that sticky sweetness is enough to make many people gag, but it's not the least bit pretentious and comes off as absolutely charming. The dreamy optimism of songs like "What Life's About" and "Adulthood for Beginners" are second to none. I'd love to live in a world where materialism takes a back seat to "kisses in the dark" or "a long hot bath" because "that's all i need, that it's for me what life's about, not all the money in the world". Call me a hopeless romantic, or simply fed up with the commericalism in the world... but at least I know that THE SHERMANS would love to live with me in utopia.