Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Soft Machine

Punkers turned dance-pop guys turn up volume

By now we've met so many arty rock boys turned poppy tune phreaks that there's nothing special conceptually about this danceable Stockholm trio, debuting stateside after starting as a hardcore band fifteen years ago. What distinguishes Teddybears is execution. This isn't the "different sound" they advertise, especially in its electropop moments, but it isn't just more of the same. It's a hell of a lot more of the same -- supercatchy, crammed with guest vocals. They expertly tone up or smooth down the best songs from 2000's Rock 'n' Roll Highschool for their crack at America, where the TV revenues they love are even more lovable. Mixes are brightened, grooves tightened, vocals changed: Fresh recruit Neneh Cherry turns "Yours to Keep" sunny and sublime, and Iggy Pop rocks the post-punk "Punkrocker." But their best trick is doing dancehall right. Who knew Elephant Man was such a friendly guy? Who knew Swedes could toast at all?

Rolling Stone, Nov. 30, 2006