Sigrid is no stranger to pop anthems. She blessed us with 'Don’t Kill My Vibe', 'Strangers', and 'Don't Feel Like Crying' on her debut album 'Sucker Punch', as well as an EP literally titled 'Anthems'. Sigrid has shared these pop bops all over the world playing a plethora of tours and festivals and solidifying her status as pop royalty. Now, the Scandivanian chanteuse has returned with more anthemic contenders in the shape of her sophomore album 'How To Let Go'.
'How To Let Go' is a record of self-empowerment, reading as Sigrid's own personal journal detailing episodes of growth and lessons in love. Whether singing of recovering from a relationship, bettering her relationship with herself, or detailing the euphoric feeling new love, Sigrid renounces her past self in favour of growth and is inspiring others to do the same.
From the album's very beginning – the punchy 'It Gets Dark' – Sigrid acknowledges the highs and lows of life with a sunny disposition. Self-reflective lyrics offer a personal yet universally approachable tone; "it gets dark so I can see the stars", affirms Sigrid. The guitar-led track ends by reverberating into space – a bold opener that sets the tone for the remainder of the pop project.
The sophomore album immediately feels like different territory from Sigrid's first release. 'Sucker Punch' was a considerable whirlwind that, coupled with a sudden lockdown, led to the romantic introspection of 'How to Let Go.' 'Last To Know' is perhaps the best example of the record's amorous contemplation. Tender and sincere, the piano ballad wishes an old flame well, hoping they're the last to learn of the singer's new relationship. The track is comparable to Sigrid's older release 'Dynamite', and mostly likely be enjoyed live in a similar manner – with the silence of an enrapt audience holding their breath.
'Last To Know' is sonically one of the most simple on the album, but it's not the only song about letting go (unsurprising, considering the album's title). 'Thank Me Later' is a classic pop lament, encouraging listeners of the age-old idea that sometimes if you truly love someone, it's best to set them free. "Let’s not decorate the sadness / let’s just rip off the band-aid" sings Sigrid before releasing a signature rousing bridge.
It’s clear that Sigrid is beginning to settle more into herself since her debut, as evidenced by the two of the album's powerful singles – the nu-disco-tinted 'Burning Bridges' and 'Mirror'. The latter, the album's lead single, blends disco strings and jolts of piano for a confident dance track of self-acceptance. Sigrid has learned that they key to happiness is loving who you see in the mirror, finding self-love in the aftermath of a relationship.
'Burning Bridges', like much of 'How To Let Go', reads like advice to a friend. A cathartic chorus crashes through waning disco instrumentation and a proclamation: "you've gotta let it go." Sigrid encourages the listener to end a damaged relationship when holding on only serves to hurt. One of the strongest tracks on the album, the Scandi popstar details frustration well, diving in headfirst to provide inspiration from her love-musings.
Sigrid's music is congruous with her persona. During her first album cycle, the singer often cited minimal makeup, plain t-shirt, and jeans as her favourite outfit and how she felt most authentic. Readers may be reminded of Billie Eilish's revelation of preferring to control the representation of herown body in the media (and therefore her own narrative) by wearing baggy, body-concealing clothes. The connection? Both Sigrid and Eilish are using fashion as a means to redirect attention to their sound.
But this loyal ensemble soon turned into a source of anxiety for Sigrid, as critics began to suggest her uniform an inauthentic marketing ploy. She managed to find the light at the end of the tunnel, though. "In the end, however, I figured out that it was me. It’s been liberating to feel like I can wear a designer gown one day and jeans the other day and it’s still me."
Even though Sigrid is more recently adopting a different attire, her music still feels like a white t-shirt and a pair of jeans – comfortable, reliable, but without surprises. Like 'Dancer', for example. The album's seventh track, 'Dancer' is a short, psychedelic burst of affection about being utterly in love. The track is coloured by influences of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, but remains a conventional pop piece.
The most recently released single 'Bad Life' brings an interesting alt-rock influence to the record, featuring an unlikely collaboration between Sigrid and ex-metalcore alt-rock band Bring Me the Horizon. Simple melodies and staggered percussion begs for that famously enjoyable hands-in-the-air clap, but at times, the track's cheesiness detracts from its potential uplifting message – "It's just a bad day / Not a bad life."
'Bad Life', alongside the album's final track 'High Note', brings a much-needed darker side to the album that adds depth and definition.' High Note' sees Sigrid contemplating the future, telling listeners she hopes she can make an impact on the world. And "go out on a high note" Sigrid does, dissolving 'How To Let Go' with rhythmic guitar saturated in emotion and the promise of a bright future.
At times, 'How To Let Go' feels like we're only scratching the surface of Sigrid, but it's keeping us poised all the more for what she will do next.
Words: Gem Stokes
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