While other Swedish bands may have been getting more attention around Europe last year, the girls in Sahara Hotnights reigned supreme on the domestic scene. Since the release of What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing in Sweden in the spring of 2007 the album has been in the sales charts for over a year straight and is now certified platinum. The single Cheek To Cheek has reached gold status and was the most played song on national radio last year. Even more remarkable is the fact that another single of theirs, Visit To Vienna, was the second most played. Add to that sold out tours, appearances at all the major festivals, a slew of awards and nominations.... and you still won’t be able to comprehend what an utterly successful year they had at home. With their queen bee status in Sweden firmly secured, the buzz is beginning to take off around Europe and after such a remarkable run of accomplishments on home soil, who would bet against them conquering the rest of the continent as well? What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing was produced by Björn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn & John (who you may remember for the hit song Young Folks) and is more varied than previous efforts, less intense but still just as catchy, and with great emphasis placed on finding a good balance between past and present influences. A lot of time was spent on pre-production, with songwriters Maria and Josephine couped up in Atlantis Studio, Stockholm with their producer for days on end, taking the songs apart and rebuilding them again just to try them in a different tempo. Once the actual recording got under way, the hours of preparation bore fruit as it turned out to be their smoothest sions ever. The focus was on putting together the best possible album, and any thoughts on how one song or another would work in the live environment were banished. This allowed the band to dare experiment a little more and instruments like the piano, saxophone and cowbell were added to certain songs with no regard given to how they would be incorporated on stage. As it turns out, even their live show improved with the new material and it’s hard to find a part of Scandinavia the band haven’t visited in the past twelve months. As much as the band has developed musically, so has Maria as a writer and vocalist. She’s always oozed of confidence, and still does, but this time the lyrics reveal a humility previously unseen and vocally the phrase “less is more” comes to mind at times. This is clearly a woman who has both loved and lost and is willing to tell both sides of the story.