Frida Sundemo – Anything

“There is definitely something to be said for soaring strings.”

Tim: First new music from Frida since her divine 2017 album Flashbacks & Futures and here’s an early prediction: I’ll really like it, you’ll get why but not enjoy it as much.

Tim: About right?

Tom: About right, although I reckon this is a cut above the usual dreampop you send over. I’m not saying I’m about to add it to a load of playlists, but there are some genuinely lovely bits in here.

Tim: Sonically, and especially instrumentally, she’s very similar to The Sound of Arrows, just female and solo, and, well, that’s entirely what I’m looking for in music to listen to. There are definite ups and downs, mind, with the occasional moment in the verse bringing along a “hurry up, get to the good bit”, but then OH, it soon does.

Tom: There is definitely something to be said for soaring strings. This feels almost more like a soundtrack piece than a pop song, but then — for me at least — that’s true of a lot of this genre.

Tim: That instrumental section kicks in at 2:45? I could sit back and listen to that for, I don’t know, probably a good quarter hour or so. Just lovely.

Frida Sundemo – Islands

“It starts on a chorus, which is a risky move at the best of times.”

Tim: The second best album of last year, Flashbacks & Futures, got released the day before my sister’s wedding, and if I’m honest it wasn’t entirely sure which I was more excited about. I won’t say which has given me more lasting enjoyment, but I will say that nine months on, one of the better tracks from it has suddenly been given a lyric video.

Tim: Now, I’ll get the obvious criticism out of the way first, to acknowledge it: there’s not much of a journey here.

Tom: I was going with “discount Chvrches”, but sure, that’s also valid criticism.

Tim: It starts on a chorus, which is a risky move at the best of times, dips to a first verse with a quiet first half and loud second half. Then the chorus, second verse, next chorus and middle eight stay at roughly the same volume. Yes, that is a slight flaw.

Tom: I disagree that starting on a chorus is overly risky: “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” has been good advice for pop musicians for a long, long time. And hey, at least I can remember the chorus after one listen this time.

Tim: HOWEVER, I am more than willing to forgive it that because OH, the last section of that song. Volume and energy wise it might not change much, but melodically and sonically it’s just so lovely. The decent, but by this point slightly repetitive, drumbeat makes way for that fabulous synth line, and it’s just great to listen to. By the end, it’s so so worth it.

Tom: And as ever with Frida’s tracks, I’m just not as enthusiastic: again, there’s nothing wrong (and, yes, it’s a good chorus), but there’s nothing that gets me excited here.

Tim: They could have turned up the colour in that video, though.

Frida Sundemo – Gold

“I don’t often describe tracks as gorgeous and beautiful, so you’d better believe I’m serious here.”

Tim: To recap, when we last featured Frida I remarked that it was great, as with so much of her output, and you could see why it was a good song, but weren’t so keen. Shall we try again?

Tim: And that. is. GORGEOUS.

Tom: Took a while to get going, but yes, that’s entirely the right adjective.

Tim: I wasn’t so sure about the first thirty seconds or so, because until the big violin roll at that point, the vocal and instrumental parts didn’t really seem to connect. That moment drew them together, though, and after that big drumbeat one minute in I had no doubts. Her voice, matched with the beautiful instrumental underneath, sounds absolutely wonderful (and I don’t often describe tracks as gorgeous and beautiful, so you’d better believe I’m serious here).

Tom: So I agree with you: “gorgeous” and “beautiful” are the correct words here. However, “entertaining” and “memorable” are a bit lower down the list for me: ‘deep into the ocean’ started to grate after a few repeats, and I don’t think I’d actually want this in a playlist.

Tim: Hmm…I can maybe see where you’re coming from with that, though I can’t say I agree with you.

Tom: Also, is that a key change down in the middle eight that never comes back up?

Tim: A slight key change, yes, but I don’t think think it’s a downward one. The song as a whole is about bravery and “having the courage to risk something that’s ‘alright’ for the chances of getting something you really dream about”, which right now connects with me as wanting to throw out my futon to make room for the newly announced LEGO Millennium Falcon.

Tom: …mate.

Tim: IT’S A SIGN, but I think I’ve got distracted. To sum up: what a glorious song.

Annoyingly, I always seem to forget how much I like Frida until every time we feature her here, BUT she’s bringing out her first international album five weeks from today so can we put that in our calendars please.

Frida Sundemo – It’s OK

“I can see how this is a good track.”

Tim: Much as with Darin last week, Frida is responsible for one of my favourite tracks we’ve ever featured here, by which I mean Snow, still wonderful four and a bit years on. Can this beat it?

Tim: No, of course it can’t, BUT it is still flipping good.

Tom: It is good. I can see how this is a good track. I don’t think I like it, though.

Tim: Oh. Well, we’ll come back to that, but first I’ll pass on that it’s apparently about “making peace with the weak and vulnerable you”, and “feeling like the loneliest person in the world and accepting that life sometimes feels like your enemy and not your friend”, and “feeling more alive than ever, about late nights and early mornings, and the longing for embracing every second of life”, all because “that’s how life is, high and low, and it’s OK”. And you know what? Aside from early mornings, I’m good with all of that, particularly if it’s presented in this fashion.

Tom: Sometimes, Tim, I think it’s a pity that music is subjective; because I can appreciate all the effort, the perfect production, the brilliant vocals.

Tim: Right? It’s lovely – strings, vocal, gentle drumbeat, I can’t fault this.

Tom: I… I just don’t like it. I’m a bit bored by it. And there’s nothing I can do to help that.

Tim: Oh, that’s a shame. I don’t know if it’ll particularly cheer people up who are feeling down and awful, but it certainly hits that level and speaks that message. So for doing what it’s trying to do, it’s excellent.

Frida Sundemo – We Are Dreamers

“Something is clearly About To Happen.“

Tim: Frida’s brilliant song Snow was used in a film I saw recently about an A&R bloke who was a complete arsehole and needed to find some new talent; she played that at a gig and was duly snapped up. I thought that was a bit unfair really, but I guess she was happy with it, and the presumable cash that came with it. ANYWAY, here’s her new one.

Tom: That’s one of the best intros I’ve heard in a while. Something is clearly About To Happen.

Tim: Obvious criticism: there’s not a huge amount going on in the way of lyrics, and that is perhaps something that should be worked upon.

Tom: Agreed: once the Thing Happened, that was it, the song seemed to run out of ideas.

Tim: On the other hand, repeating it over and over again is a hell of a way to get a message across – “I feel like air” might not be particularly inspiring or indeed intelligible, but you can’t exactly ignore the dreamers bit, and certainly not when it’s over backing as impressive as this.

Tom: True, the composition and production is basically perfect here. I still feel it’s missing something — it may just be anything in the low frequencies, because it’s all treble and no bass — but what’s there is great.

Tim: Right, because just listen to that stuff at e.g. 46 seconds in – isn’t it just gorgeous? And it persists throughout. It’s so LOVELY.

Rasmus Faber & Frida Sundemo – Hideaway

“Almost ambient.”

Tim: We’ve featured Frida (the vocalist here) a few times before, though not Rasmus (the backing tune bloke). Here’s their output as a pairing, which according to the accompanying scribblings “marries together perfectly Frida’s hazy, gently beautiful vocals with Rasmus’s crisp beats and mesmerizing, layered production.”

Tom: “Crisp beats”? They’re not lettuce. Some marketing person’s getting carried away with themselves.

Tim: Let’s have a listen.

Tim: Allegedly, “the result is an infectious but subtle earworm that will have you humming in the spring sunshine!” which is perhaps one exclamation mark too many, and if I’m honest a perfect example of why sometimes publicists should just let the track do the talking, because reading that first just results in a let down.

Tom: Yep: that first verse was — well, “enchanting” is too strong a word, but certainly “nice”. But that chorus…

Tim: Yes, nice is about right – great vocals and good backing, so good work from both of them there, and the song is definitely one I might stick on a lazy summer playlist – not earwormy stuff, though, and to be honest I may well have forgotten it by the time I’ve got my sunglasses on.

Tom: Agreed. It’s almost… ambient. That’s not a good description for a track like this.

Tim: No – although the vocals are gently beautiful (and probably hazy as well, whatever that might mean when describing vocals) and the beats are indeed crisp, mesmerising and layered, it’s a great track, but not one I’ll be humming. DAMN YOUR OVERSELLING.

Frida Sundemo – Drawn To You

“it doesn’t quite hold together as an actual track for me.”

Tim: ‘Lit Up By Neon’, the title of Frida’s on-its-way EP, perhaps explaining the sudden rush of tracks. This here, the second in a month, is a little more upbeat than the previous, so that’s nice.

Tom: Hmm. It might be more upbeat on the whole — that synth-vocal certainly is — but those verses do drag it down a bit.

Tim: Yes – the voice is still her trademark somewhat ethereal voice, that’s hard to really put a mood on (certainly hard to describe as upbeat), but we’ve got here that underlying vocal line that’d be hard to spell so I won’t try, and that brings with it a certain ‘ooh, this is fun and invigorating’ sensation.

Tom: Right! But when the synth line is also the chorus, it doesn’t quite hold together as an actual track for me. It’s nearly there, but it just needs something else to kick it into being a Really Good Song.

Tim: Well, for me that comes with the lovely ‘I’m running at the speed of light in the middle of the night’ melody which appears every now and again and is also excellent. Two favourite parts, then, and for me that’s plenty enough to qualify this as a good track.

Frida Sundemo – Hanging By A Thread

“The loveliest thing about this has been almost entirely slaughtered.”

Tim: Frida, we may or may not have noted before, has a lovely voice. But that’s not the loveliest thing about this track.

Tom: That’s pretty calm and, as you say, lovely – and I’m not sure, but is that a downward key change for the final bit?

Tim: Do you know, I think it might be. Unorthodox. Upsettingly, the loveliest thing about this has been almost entirely slaughtered by SoundCloud’s compression, because it’s the big synth notes that I really love about this, that appear for a bit in the middle and then return to bring it to a close.

Tom: That’s not Soundcloud: they don’t do compression.

Tim: Oh. Then…

Tom: That’s the mastering on the original track, and yes — it absolutely buries that synth under everything. It’s an odd decision.

Tim: Huh. It is, because they’re wonderful, and fit in beautifully with the strings that run underneath throughout; it’s just such a shame they sound so awful. Well can we have it remastered please? That’d be nice THANKS.

Frida Sundemo – Snow

What a difference from a few days ago.

Tim: Yes, we did a Frida Sundemo track just a few days ago. But this is off the same released-in-March EP, quite a bit better than Indigo, and (to top it all) somewhat topical. What fun.

Tom: That’s a builder and no mistake. What a difference from a few days ago.

Tim: Absolutely – the video is not disturbing, the lyrics are not nonsensical, and even better than that, it does more than just squat. Instead, it gets up and does stuff. Not too much, obviously – it’s meant to be a sad song about not enjoying being alone.

Tom: There are parts where that comes through a little too strongly – that glitchy, repeating part at the end of the chorus grates badly for me – but the rest of the chorus is so good that I can’t really complain.

Tim: Good. And despite the song’s sadness, it makes a very good job of dancing around at times, building snowmen, and in the quieter moments you can imagine it lying down to making angel shapes.

Tom: I think this metaphor might be getting away from you.

Tim: And yet I shall persist. It might not want to be outside at all – it would probably rather be inside, being given a mug of hot chocolate from its more upbeat friends, but while it’s out there it’s damn sure it’s going to make the best of a situation that’s almost as bad as, I suppose I should agree, this metaphor has become.

Tom: Care to summarise that?

Tim: Love it.

Frida Sundemo – Indigo

Tom: And now, the creepiest video I’ve seen in a little while.

Tim: Having previously worked as a mascot for the best part of a year, I’d like to express my disapproval that he’s not wearing paws. That there makes it quite clear that it is not, in fact, a massive bunny rabbit that she’s having relationship issues with, which is just not right.

Tom: “You’re an indigo”?

Tim: YOUR MUM’S AN INDIGO.

Tom: Look, I know I shouldn’t complain about nonsense lyrics in pop, but that’s nonsense in several different ways.

Tim: Shouldn’t you? Why on Earth not? We complain about everything else, and this is just bloody ridiculous.

Tom: And maybe I could forgive it if the rest of the track was worth it: but the rest of the track just kind of squats around for a bit.

Tim: ‘Squats.’ That’s a good word to use. Well done.

Tom: She’s singing, yes, and there’s some instrumentation. It’s upbeat, sure, but for want of a better metaphor it just seems to be running on the spot, never quite going anywhere. Aside from the brief middle eight, it’s all the bloody same. Sometimes that works, and here… here it doesn’t.

Tim: Yep. That sums it all up pretty well.