Mälmo's Billie the Vision & the Dancers are a seven-member ensemble who play tuneful, chipper, folksy pop music with idiosyncratic, sometimes mawkishly sentimental lyrics.
(Sweden has a seemingly endless supply of such groups, though most of them have a little more restraint when it comes to choosing band names.) The multi-racial, multi-gender collective revolves around a singer and songwriter named Lars Lindquist (not Billie, though he is unmistakably a vision: a statuesque transvestite with blue eyes and shocking, fiery red-gold hair) who convened the group in 2004 to help record some songs he had initially intended as a solo project. They introduced the world to their particular brand of twee pop -- lush, rootsy, musically accomplished, and surprisingly tasteful, but still undeniably, adorably cutesy -- with I Was So Unpopular in School and Now They're Giving Me This Beautiful Bicycle. Like all of their releases to date, it was self-released on their own Love Will Pay the Bills label and made available for download, free of charge, from their website. 2005's The World According to Pablo, recorded that summer in a borrowed country house, introduced the presumably fictitious Pablo Diablo character as a central lyrical focus. (Lilly, another recurring figure in Lindquist's convoluted, conversational narratives, had made her first appearance on Bicycle's opener, "Summercat.") Both of these albums were nominated for the Swedish indie music Manifest prize and helped the band to secure an impressive national and international following without major-label support or external PR, thanks in part to their savvy Internet marketing strategy and an unorthodox approach to live performance (including tours of high schools and prisons, in addition to a series of opening slots for the Pipettes). In April 2007, Billie the Vision released their third full-length, Where the Ocean Meets My Hand. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi