• Salt
  • Bluster EP (Island Independent) 1995 
  • Auscultate (Island) 1996 

After decades of softening the center of commerce-pop without a thought of kicking out the jams, mid-’90s Sweden has been swimming in the hip end of the rock pool. Salt, the Stockholm art-school trio of singer/guitarist Nina Ramsby, bassist Daniel Ewerman and drummer Jim Tegman, sounds like Elastica, but with a pronounced American rock bent and rawer production. Ramsby is a controlled, forceful singer with no perceptible accent, a complicated persona (the sketchy lyrics say a lot) and emotion to burn. On the album, she savors the sensuality of “Obsession” (“I’ve got your name on my lips/I’ve got your face in my eyes/I’ve got your breath in my mouth/I’ve got your smell on my body”), delivers the sleepy invitation of “Lids” like a caress and lashes into the fantasy sexuality of “Undressed” with searing passion. Hindered a bit by inept sequencing, Auscultate (“Educated apprehension through listening,” explains the band) has the material and dynamic gear-switches to make a pungent first impression.

[Ira Robbins]