On From the Valley to the Stars, Sarah Assbring, the Swedish singer/songwriter and the sole creative force behind the El Perro del Mar moniker, further develops the twee-ish pop that has become her signature sound. Ever since Assbring appeared on the Swedish music scene, as something called an MP3/CDR artist, she has been crafting simple melodic gems that draw heavily on the influence of 1960’s American girl-group R&B. This trend continues on From the Valley to the Stars, even though the album title suggests diversity and a collection of material that might be more encompassing of the musical spectrum. There is, however, a slight departure from her brand of twee with the inclusion of a few hymn-like songs.
The opening track, “Jubilee”, with its combination of organ, chimes and harmonies, is reminiscent of the sunny sounds of the Beach Boys. This track also introduces the lyrical aesthetic that is prominent throughout the album. That is to say, there is not much lyrical complexity in the music of El Perro del Mar, as the titles of the songs are often repeated throughout the songs like melodic mantras.
The influence of 60’s girl-group Soul and R&B, with its shoop-shoop rhythms and backing overdubbed harmonies, is all over this album. “Into the Sunshine”, “Somebody’s Baby, “You Can’t Steal a Gift”, and “Inside the Golden Egg” all share this Martha and Vandellas-esque quality and tend to be the most developed and just all around better of all the songs on the album.
More than anything else, the music of El Perro del Mar is mood music. These songs sound more like parts of songs that have been extracted from something bigger and more fully realized. Nevertheless, Assbring’s melodic intuition and beautiful voice are what breathes life into this album and it’s these qualities that make El Perro del Mar worth listening to.