The names Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle will forever be associated with pop duo Roxette. Three years after Fredriksson’s untimely death, Gessle is now releasing an album with a new project that bears their band name – and also the unmistakably pop Roxette sound of “Joyride” and other world hits of the past. “Pop-Up Dynamo!” will be released by Warner Music on Friday.
“I decided early on that we should go for this sound from the late ’80s, early ’90s, where my heart is basically,” Gessle told the DPA (German News Agency) ahead of the release of the album. Instead of adapting to very new formats, it’s better to stick with what you’re good at. “At the same time, I didn’t want to be nostalgic or too retro. I also wanted to sound modern,” emphasizes the now 63-year-old Swede. The result was an uptempo pop album. “It’s a mishmash of 1989 and 2022 – or 2021 when it was recorded,” Gessle said.
1989 – around this year was the heyday of Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson. As Roxette, the two Swedes stringed together one world success after another, including “The Look”, “Listen To Your Heart” and “It Must Have Been Love”. They sold about 80 million albums worldwide. Gessle wrote the songs, while Fredriksson’s stunning voice became a hit on German radio too.
In 2016 Roxette gave their last concert. On December 9, 2019, Fredriksson died at the age of just 61 after a long battle with cancer. Gessle also processed this musically, one year after her death, the song collection “Bag Of Trix” came out with unpublished and partly lost Roxette recordings.
Roxette is now continued as PG Roxette, the world hits of that time are followed by the album “Pop-Up Dynamo!”, dedicated to Marie Fredriksson. The sound remains the same, but a hardly replaceable voice has to be replaced. “This is a new chapter beginning,” says Gessle. “It would have felt strange to do a Roxette album without Marie.”
Fredriksson is therefore not heard on the album, but the longtime background singers Helena Josefsson and Dea Norberg. “Pop-Up Dynamo!” is different vs. music by Roxette, but somehow not. From the very first few seconds, “Walking On Air”, the record’s strong first and pre-release track, feels like a ’90s car ride with the radio turned on. The voices of Gessle, Josefsson and Norberg invite you to sing along, the melodies of several of the eleven songs remain supple in the ear.
In the middle of the album, for example with “You Hurt The One You Love The Most” and “Jezebel”, the music sometimes becomes calmer and more thoughtful, in between with “The Loneliest Girl In The World” – despite the sad title – audibly happier again. So Gessle has remained true to this mixture of the cheerful and the thoughtful, which also characterized Roxette. He’s not trying to be Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber.
Gessle didn’t shy away from getting the old synthesizers out of the basement. The Swede admits that “Pop-Up Dynamo!” is something different than today’s pop music. The album sounds so completely different from everything else that is musically circulating today. “Most pop music today is made on laptops or in that style,” he says. “It’s a development that has limited the music a bit.” Gessle himself stays within his old comfort boundaries – those of Roxette.