“Det nya albumet med den grubblande titeln ‘Beyond The Dreams There’s Infinite Doubt’ är betydligt svartare i kanterna än debuten och behandlar en kärlek som till slut rinner ut i misslyckanden.”
PSL, Sweden

“Like the soundtrack to a fantasy movie that’s never been made, Beyond The Dreams There’s Infinite Doubt is a record filled with unabashed wonder, pastel coloured hues and heart flipping melodies.”
The Line Of Best Fit, UK

“With Azure Blue, former Irene and Laurel Music songwriter Tobias Isaksson creates a melange of ’80s synthpop textures and ’90s shoegaze vocals mixed with that wall of sound, perfected by pop music back in the ’60s. Yet, this music sounds utterly contemporary.”
PopMatters, USA

“It’s basically a Beach Boys feeling when you listen to Azure Blue’s music in general, only add some sugar and take away the drooling brother, broken guitar straps and those disturbing braces (not to mix this up with Lemon Popsicle).”
Nordic By Nature, Germany



Nothing But Hope And Passion

The Fader

The Line Of Best Fit


The Line Of Best Fit

The Fader


Under The Radar


The Line Of Best Fit

The Fader



Swede + Sour

Nordic By Nature

Tasted Shapes



Winner of the Swedish independent Grammy award Manifest for Best Pop 2012! (Previous Manifest Best Pop winners: The Knife, The Embassy, El Perro Del Mar, Jens Lekman, Frida Hyvönen, The Radio Dept etc.)


8/10 Sonic
4/5 Dagens Nyheter
4/6 Nöjesguiden
4/6 Gaffa
4/5 Göteborgs-Posten.
4/5 Borås Tidning
4/5 NWT
4/5 Tram 7
4/5 Ikon
4/5 Joyzine
3/5 Sydsvenskan


Azure Blue on Hypemachine

Azure Blue on We Are Hunted

The name Tobias Isaksson sounded familiar; then I remembered that he plied his trade in a few very good Swedish pop bands: Irene, and Laurel Music (both on the Labrador label). Still, as good as those bands were, he has easily surpassed both with the excellent debut from his new band. The record is all Isaksson with what sounds like an array of vintage synths and an obedient drum machine (and let’s not forget producer, Midnight Ruler). To get straight to the point, he has crafted the best electro-pop record in recent memory. Opening with an obscure Grant McLennan cover “Fingers” (off the late Go-Betweens member’s Fireboy record), that song perfectly sets the tone. It slowly unfolds and swooshes right into the record’s first single, “The Catcher in the Rye,” which, with its soaring vibe, could be a “song of the year” candidate for any 12-month span. Later, “Seasons” sounds like prime O.M.D., while “Little Confusions” is more New Order in its economical approach. Of the remaining tracks: “Long Way Down” and “Dreamy Eyes” are both too gooey for words, and the record-ending “Chisel Beach” is a moody, romantic song to a former lover. Honestly, there’s not a bad song on here. I’m not sure if Isaksson is on to something else, but he really needs to sit back, relax and enjoy all the gifts (words) that come with a record this good. I have one word: Wow!
9/10 Blurt Magazine

Today Sweden’s Hybris label releases Rule of Thirds, the enchanting debut album from Azure Blue, solo project of Stockholm’s Tobias Isaksson. Framing the record as a look back at his life’s three breakups lets Isaksson reminisce lyrically and sonically—singing wistfully about former flames over music nostalgic for the heyday of Factory Records. His touch is tender and light, and the album’s best songs—”The Catcher in the Rye,” “Little Confusions” and “Dreamy Eyes”—always swing to the sky, riding up on decades of learning from drum machines and tangled relationships. I’m sorry that I never took your picture right at the early break of day, he sings on the final track. It’s a hugely romantic record, bathed in feelings of regret but also a certain fullness from having been involved in the first place. But the wave rode on from the breaker to another, my love, he concludes, and it ain’t ever all alone. Next month Matinée releases Rule of Thirds in the US.
The Fader

“Azure Blue is the solo project of Stockholm’s Tobias Isaksson. Nostalgia fuelled pop harking back to the heyday of Factory Records, Isaksson’s material is deeply romantic with a deft production slight of hand that can single-handedly break your heart and indeed heal it in one fell swoop.”
The Line Of Best Fit

Performing as Azure Blue, Tobias Isaksson looks back to the 1980s for much of his sound on his new release Rule of Thirds, and he considers three romantic break-ups as his lyrical inspiration. That doesn’t mean he’s just a nostalgia act, though, as his electro-pop takes its own turns and his emotional reflections reveal a certain amount of mature distance (even if he might be hiding some of those feelings in pop culture references).

The just-released video for “Seasons” skips the pop culture for the classical, opening with a description of the mythological sirens. The opening’s off-putting, hinting that an ex-lover was simply a call to calamity, but the song’s dreamy and not offended, Isaksson embracing the time to let go. The new age-y feel to the video supports this idea without completely relinquishing longing. There’s something uncomfortable about the visuals that suggests there’s a stronger attachment here than we’re led to believe, and the video maintains a tension between the music’s calm release, the video’s soft images, and the idealization of the female form that drives our heartbroken singer to a romanticized sort of hurt, even if he wants to move into the season of release.
PopMatters (about the video for Seasons)

Around the turn of the century, there was a seam of wonderful indiepop coming from a smallish place called England, which our friends from Matinée Recordings mined for us by releasing fine records from Harper Lee, Sportique, the Windmills, the Would-be-Goods and others. Yet centres of gravity shift, as the tectonic plates beneath them grumble and crawl, and a decade or so on it is the ever-fertile pop breeding ground of Scandinavia which provides the label with some of its blue riband artistes. Following the achievements of Northern Portrait, Champagne Riot, Cats on Fire and – not too long ago, but too long ago, if you get me – Electric Pop Group, the latest ensemble to make their Matinée bow are Azure Blue (the new project of Tobias Isaksson, ex-of Irene and Laurel Music). Appropriately enough, “Rule of Thirds” parcels Azure Blue’s labours into nine sleek little songs. Grant McLennan cover “Fingers” is an astute choice of opener, immediately placing Azure Blue within a grown-up pop tradition, thus informing appreciation of the rest of the album at the same time as paying due tribute to the late G.W.’s easy way with a song. It’s followed by “The Catcher In The Rye”, which delivers on many counts (one of which is that you can scrawl it on a compilation tape tracklist straight after former Matinée signing Airport Girl’s “Salinger Wrote”), but also that it sets the guitar-pop influences hinted at by “Fingers” alongside Tobias’ obvious fetish for synthpop, with a result that will have you dancing up the skirting boards. Indeed, “The Catcher In The Rye” is the first of three standout should-be singles which, for our kroner, illuminate the album with its pearliest dew drops (drops) of palpable pop promise: the others are “Little Confusions”, which pots a declaration of unswerving romance into less than three minutes, and the neat, poignant and tart “Two Hearts”, an unerringly catchy marriage of synths and strings. Over the album as a whole, Azure Blue switch to more contemplative musical moods too, and manage to flit between sounds as diverse as early OMD, Celestial and Orange Cake Mix, even channelling Albinoni for good measure on a couple of songs, while still finding time for a liberal use of samples to break up the flow a little. It’s clear their devotion to synthpop is sincere, and on “Little Confusions” and “Dreamy Eyes” (which comes into its own during its final, instrumental flourish) there’s even some Hook-high bass which brings back memories of 80s New Order or the Cure. And “Rule Of Thirds” ends in just the right way, too, with “Chesil Beach” affixing Harper Lee-like melancholy to those swirling synths as it searches, longingly but hopelessly, for an upbeat lyrical coda: instead of Keris looking out across the Channel in “William Blake”, this is Tobias standing on the Dorset shingle, watching his memories float away on the English tide. There could be no better way to say goodnight, Irene.
In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times

La escena indiepop ha estado siempre expuesta a discutibles acusaciones de ensimismamiento, integrismo e inmovilismo nostálgico. Es cierto que pocas cosas han cambiado tan poco en los últimos 25 años. Sus referentes estéticos continúan inamovibles: supremacía de la melodía, una cierta cursilería en sus letras, sonido ochentero, electrónica de habitación, Sarah Records, The Smiths, The Cure, Lloyd Cole… Pero el desarrollo tecnológico le ha afectado positivamente. Salvo excepciones, Internet dejó atrás el coleccionismo enloquecido y esnob y la importancia suprema del fetiche para dejar más espacio a la música, y las producciones se han beneficiado de forma evidente de los avances en el software sin necesidad de perder su espíritu lo-fi. Otra cosa no ha cambiado: desde mediados de los 90, Escandinavia es el mayor proveedor de alegrías para el género. En un momento en que la audiencia musical se compartimenta más que nunca en nichos estilísticos, la vigencia del llamado tweepop (literalmente, pop cursi) está garantizada gracias a la cabezonería de sellos históricos como Labrador y de otros más jóvenes como Hybris, disquera editora del debut como Azure Blue del sueco Tobias Isaksson, miembro de los discretamente reconocidos Irene. No hay nada en Rule of thirds que constituya ni por asomo una novedad desde ningún punto de vista. Ni en su sonido (pop electrónico de autor con un aire dream), ni en el nombre de su proyecto (inspirado en Pacific Ocean Blue de Dennis Wilson), ni en sus manidas referencias temáticas (El guardián entre el centeno, amor peterpanesco, melancolía general), ni en sus homenajes melódicos, algunos tan evidentes como el de Seasons , que clava la melodía de Angeleyes de ABBA, o el de la fantástica Dreamy Eyes, que rememora el clasicazo de Another Sunny Day, You should all be murdered . Lugares comunes a los que el oyente de este hermoso, humilde y por momentos arrebatador debut querrá regresar una y otra vez como si se tratase de la primera experiencia adolescente.
4/5 El Pais (Spain’s biggest daily newspaper!)

Musically, yes, there’s some electronics here, but the minute details applied to “The Shore” demonstrate that this could easily be transferred into some genius guitar ballad. Tobias seems to carefully consider the way his lyrics are delivered, with pitch and tone harmoniously fitting into the musical background. The more you fall victim to the genius of Rule of Thirds, the more you realize that you could easily replace every bit of electronics with traditional guitar and drums, creating wondrous pop tunes, yet Isaksson as Azure Blue doesn’t seem to be content with normalcy. He’s carefully crafted an album of love lost around intricate electronic details, providing listeners with track after track of gorgeous, melodious songs, the type that will sink deep into your soul the more you listen. For this, amongst other reasons, the record is a huge success and worthy of many hours of your time.
3,5/5 Austin Town Hall

There’s a terrible, terrible tendency amongst some pop fans to think that anything that comes out of Scandinavia is immediately to be pounced on and rubbed up against without any kind of rational thinking. It kind of annoys me slightly. Nationality and imaginary borders mean nothing in life, and therefore in pop music. Let me say this: ‘Rule of Thirds’ is brilliant. It’s the kind of electropop album that most often strive to make, but very often fail by trying to be too clever. Tobias Isaksson, who seems to be something of Real Pop Hero in his native Sweden, doesn’t have to try too hard. Each of these songs seems to float by in a kind of cosy dreamlike state, never really asking you to think too hard, but always managing to catch your attention. Azure Blue are the musical equivalent of Coronation Street, you might say: comfortable; assured; definitely pleasing; and certain to appeal to 65 year olds from Wigan. That last point might need some work, but you get my drift. It’s about ten years since I discovered Matinée Records (or Recordings, if you will). Back then they were putting stuff out by The Windmills and Airport Girl and it was great. Right now they’re putting stuff out like Azure Blue and it’s still as great. That there is the definition of not only a great group of bands, but a wonderful record label. Long may it continue.
A Layer of Chips

Azure Blue, the project of the Stockholm-based musician Tobas Isaksson, released its debut album Rule of Thirds a few weeks ago and it’s definitely worth your time – having received very good reviews here in Sweden. Rule of Thirds is being released by the Swedish label Hybris in Scandinavia (with Matinée handling the international release). Hybris being the home to the latest releases from Ja Ja Ja-favourites such as Korallreven and Big Fox, the album should please fans of excellent Scandinavian pop.
Jajaja – in association with The Line of Best Fit

For a November-released record explicitly about break-ups, Azure Blue’s Rule of Thirds shows a pretty blatant disregard for the downer days of winter, with its surfing cover art and Tobias Isaksson’s weightless Bahama breeze of a voice. The album’s in another world, but the tone’s not quite escapist—Isaksson never denies the major bummers of his life. It just refuses to be sad, staying dreamy and sentimental no matter what.
The Fader

Way back in 2006/7 Swedish band Irene put out a couple of records on Labrador. Both of them were great; short (Apple Bay is 15 minutes), sharp and full of glossy Scandinavian pop, they were a band hard not to love. Then they kind of disappeared. Well fear not, Irene fans. Tobias Isaksson is back from exile with a new project: Azure Blue. Stepping away from the shimmering indie-pop of previous exploits Azure Blue take those melody heavy Irene vocals and wrap them around a bunch of vintage synth and drum track backing. Think a more optimistic Radio Dept. and you’re somewhere in the right direction. There’s a long playing album in the shape of Rule Of Thirds available now from Matinée Recordings or all your favourite digital music pushers.
Streetlights As Fairgrounds

Per la prima volta solista dopo una ragguardevole carriera come leader di band (Laurel Music e Irene) fondamentali per la scena scandinava, con “Rule Of Thirds” Tobias Isaksson ha costruito il suo capolavoro. Le canzoni di Azure Blue sono un prodigio di complessa semplicità: partendo da una calda, avvolgente e dinamica base di sinth e mettendola in dialogo con chitarre scampanellanti, una ritmica liquida e la propria voce densa e morbida, Isaksson disegna una serie di luminosi orizzonti marini che sembrano altrettanti inni al viaggio, alla libertà, al sogno. E invitano a partire.
(Just Another) Pop Song

Svenskerne har så ofte vist at de er mestre ud i god pop, og Azure Blue, et solo project fra Tobias Isaksson, er endnu et eksempel på en svensker, der rammer alle de rigtige tangenter. Navnet Azure Blue er en parafrase af Dennis Wilson’s “Pacific Ocean Blue”. Som navnet antyder er vi ude i nogle toner der, hvis du lukker øjnene, transporterer dig til en hvid strand under varme himmelstrøg. Sangenes tekster er desuden romantiske som ind i helvede. Der er ikke rigtig nogle højdepunkter på pladen — kvaliteten er nemlig mere eller mindre høj over hele linjen.
Musik Mig Blidt

Azure Blue es el nuevo grupo de Tobias Isaksson antiguo miembro de Irene que acaba de debutar en el maravilloso sello Matinée con “Rule Of Thirds” un precioso disco que recupera la electrónica de los ochenta (recuerda por momentos a OMD y también a Bryan Ferry) y que se olvida, en esta ocasión, de las divertidas y contagiosas melodías del tan admirado pop sueco. “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Seasons”, “Little Confusions” y el resto de canciones, hasta llegar a nueve, sorprenden por su extrema elegancia y delicadeza.
Avec La Participation De

Échappé de la riche scène pop suédoise, Tobias Isaksson a pourtant trouvé refuge sur le label californien Matinée pour son premier album solo. On est donc plutôt content par la petite surprise qui ouvre cet album, soit une reprise d’un titre tiré de la carrière solo du regretté Grant McLennan des Go-Betweens. Une agréable preuve de bon goût même si malheureusement la version de Tobias fait forcément un peu pâle figure comparée à celle, poignante, que livrait Grant au beau milieu de “Watershed”. La barre était haute, et difficile d’en tenir rigueur au Suédois, qui embraie ensuite avec une brillante et prometteuse série de pop songs touchantes et bien troussées, au premier rang desquelles “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Long Way Down” ou “The Shore”. Bien entendu, avec ses arrangements synthétiques particulièrement soignées et sa voix quelque peu noyée dans la reverb, “Rule of Thirds” ne révolutionne pas un genre de toute façon peu enclin aux chamboulements, mais, sous sa pochette bleu océan, propose une honorable et discrète transposition vers les brumeuses mers nordiques du “Pacific Ocean Blue” de Dennis Wilson, référence lointaine mais avouée du garçon. Charmant.
Pop News

No es que se hayan dormido en los laureles, es que Hybris, si tardaba, era porque estaba planeando algo bueno. Quizás otro de los discos del año pasado (no son tantos) para el escribiente, al menos en estos géneros más próximos al indiepop. Una vuelta al arranque carbonando las máquinas desde las que activar el engranaje para un nuevo trabajo de Jonathan Johansson, el largo de Korallreven (comentado próximamente en sus pantallas), el álbum homónimo de Big Fox y este magnífico debut de Azure Blue en una posición aural más allá de la regla de los tercios. Así es como Tobias Isaksson, también miembro del gran ensemble que forman Irene y los que fueran Laurel Music, hace ya alguna caída de hoja que otra, regresa para expresar, quizás, lo mejor que ha escrito hasta la actualidad. Rule of Thirds no es sólo un fantástico esfuerzo de indiepop escandinavo con el siempre nostálgico eco de los comienzos de Creation, Factory, Les Disques du Crépuscule y otras añoranzas del primer synthpop, sino que es una exégesis lúcida y contemporánea de Pacific Ocean Blue, ese magnífico disco de Dennis Wilson (el batería de Beach Boys, para el que no recuerde). Y es, además, su pequeña cantata indiemecánica al azul del mar que inspira el romanticismo de los cortes que aquí incluye. Lógico, entonces, que reitere esa idea de Azure Blue, ya sólo en el nombre, que tanto más tiene que decir en la polisemia anglosajona del segundo adjetivo, pues aquí también hay anhelo, lágrima y melancolía cerúlea, además de honestas, tan clásicas que son modernas, inmediatas y espléndidas canciones pop. Rule of Thirds, que también edita Matinée desde el otro lado del charco tributado, destaca por su carácter atemporal, por la transparencia turquesa de melodías y letras y una constante taciturna, aunque limpiamente cubierta por una maquinaria upbeat, que conquista cada rincón plata del disco. Se compone de nueve canciones que se basan en la estructura clásica del indiepop canónico y de los primeros ejercicios del synthpop melancólico. Disoluciones encantadoras de pop en forma de aguanieve. De Pacific (los de Creation, claro) a Orchestral Maneouvres In The Dark, Isaksson deja el sol de las lateralidades del pop de los sesenta que tanto trabajase entonces para inclinarse por un sonido dominado por las cajas de ritmo y los efectos sintéticos y electrónicos, un twindiepop escarchado, los sintetizadores y teclados de armonías y de sonidos más pop, los bajos envolventes herederos de una suave cold wave, y la trepidación rítmica que se arrulla en un regocijo espumoso. Muchas veces semejante al sonido de Carl Orlsson (o Paddington Distortion Combo, del que más de una vez he hablado y el que, por cierto, ha publicado también recientemente United en el sello alemán Save The CD-R), pero de intenciones evidentemente más consumibles; cerca también de Erik Halldén, The Field Mice, Little Name, Vitesse, mi fetiche Hormones in Abundance, los comienzos de The Magnetic Fields o al de los noruegos Kawaii; Azure Blue se presenta con una ópera prima virtuosa entre el rumor añil del indiepop onírico y cavilante de Sarah Records o Shinkansen y la intendencia gélida del azur de la new wave de la nueva ola belga. En un registro sentimental y de constante arrobo en el que el de Estocolmo, haciendo gala de esa fagocitación nórdica que tanto enaltece el pop níveo, se orienta en lamentos y esperanzas cantadas para el recogimiento del índigo pop y el timbre trémolo de armonías sensibles. Cristalino, claro y meridiano.
No Todo

We don’t know how you feel currently, but the only stuff we want to do in the freezing city of Paris is just get in our bed and have a rest… The only thing we need is that case is a good and soft music… Actually Azure Blue, Tobias Isaksson’s solo project sounds perfect for that! The guy from the North released in December it début album, Rule of Thirds, that is perfect for winter. The Swedish guy shares it vision of the Ocean with wisphering voices, vintage beats and deep synthetizer waves. The result is a Chill-Wave music mixed with a surf-rock touch. Finally, the sound is between naive joy and nostalgia. So get prepared to take off your socks and to dream.

jedes ding will seinen namen haben und so firmiert tobias isaksson unter dem moniker azure blue. passt bestens in die jahreszeit. wobei schwedischer pop einen eh durchs ganze jahr bringen kann, ob sommer, ob winter. und so schickt sich der irene und laurel music mann, die bisherigen projekte isakssons, an, uns mit einer gänzlich neuen attraktion zu wärmen. nicht zuletzt der hinweis im moniker auf dennis wilsons “pacific ocean blue” muss als vorzeichen gedeutet werden, in welche richtung der “a mature aor record”, landete aber schließlich bei new wave und new romantic anleihen. seine persönlichen referenzen, die auch bei der erstellung des albums “rule of thirds” eine rolle spielten, sind die narrativen kräfte von ernest hemingway, klas östergren und grant mclennan. am ende muss man von wohlfühlpop reden, der sich durch lichte transparenz einen namen macht. matinée recordings veröffentlichte ende des sommers und wir verweisen nun auf ein verträumtes liederbündel, das sich anfühlt wie, um beim obigen bild zu bleiben, eine vollkommen entspannte fahrt auf dem meer, bei der man sich nur treiben lässt, um auf dem deck zu dösen. den verbrannten pelz am abend lassen wir mal außen vor, denn noch weiß ich nicht, ob auf das album noch etwas kommt: ein schwerer kopf, ein durchlöchertes herz. vielleicht. tobias’ sanfte stimme, die synthiewellen, der leichte beat, keine hinweise, auf weite, sichtbar, die auf ein übel deuteten. dass es das noch gibt!
Das Klienicum

Cuando parece que el año ya no da mucho más de sí en cuanto a novedades musicales, siempre aparece un disco a última hora que se coloca entre los candidatos a figurar entre lo mejor de este 2011. Tal es el caso de Azure Blue con este “Rule Of Thirds”, proyecto en solitario del sueco Tobias Isaksson, conocido por su participación en bandas como Laurel Music e Irene, quien nos obsequia aquí con una magnifica colección de canciones pop de corte clásico. El disco se ha editado esta misma semana en Suecia a través del sello Hybris y Matinée Recordings lo publicará en unas semanas para el resto del mundo.
Stereo Pills


Sveriges Radio P3 SWE heavy rotation 17 weeks and radio live and interview

Gimme Indie a-rotation

RNE Discogrande ESP radio live and interview

Pulsa radio El Planeta Amarillo ESP

Radio Guerilla rotation and charts peak at 23 RO

Strangeways Radio US


Magic RPM’s Magic Mixtape #41

A Tribute To Club Tropicana vol. 2

Club Tropicana

Sound Indie Music


The Fader

Jajaja – in association with The Line of Best Fit

Hits In The Car

Tasted Shapes


Devotion Magazine

Tram 7

Klubb Ace

Musik Enligt Jerry

Warmer Climes

A Negative Narrative photo interview

Ants On Whales

4 Imaginary Boys

Berzerker Music Dictator