There are very few artists on the current music scene that genuinely excite me. Those musicians that have the ability to cause your body to release a rush of adrenaline when their latest artwork appears on your Spotify dashboard: when you realize there’s a new single for you to play on repeat until you’ve driven those around you slightly mad. For the past three years, Astrid S has been that artist for me.
From her first collaboration with Julie Bergan, Undressed, in 2013, her first self-titled EP release three years later, and a stream of successful singles that followed including ‘Such A Boy’, ‘Think Before I Talk’, and ‘Someone New’, the young Norwegian singer-songwriter has consistently churned out addictive pop tracks that are both structurally interesting and exhilaratingly upbeat. That’s why my expectations of her latest, and possibly most important offering – her debut studio album, Leave It Beautiful, which will release next Friday, 16 October – were so gut-wrenchingly high.
It’s initially exciting to see an abundance of shiny new track names, a factor surprising for an artist with such an extensive back catalogue (only 3 of the record’s 10 songs have been previously released) – but this quickly subsides, and I am left feeling, well, relatively underwhelmed. The album opens with ‘Marilyn Monroe’, a confident dance-y track and the second single taken from the album, whose lyrics discuss judgement and the pressures of being in the public eye. It’s repetitive structure fits the formula of chart toppers, but the simple chorus doesn’t draw me in, and there’s seemingly no catchy lyrical hook to give it that addictive quality. Overall, the record feels lacking in the bouncy pop I was so desperately craving.
But with a second listen, then a third, I gradually warm to the content of Leave It Beautiful. Recent release ‘It’s Ok If You Forget Me’ is by far the best track on the record, it’s gentle guitar strums and poignant lyrics accentuate Astrid’s silky smooth vocals and build to an impressive chorus, which seems to elevate the track’s tone initially without adding any further instrumental layers. ‘Can’t Forget’ opens with a flurry of harmonies, leading into a subtle beat which contrasts impressively with the fast paced, upbeat vocals and ambient-style chorus.
Leave It Beautiful doesn’t fulfil the listeners expectations – gone are the bouncy rhythms, cheeky vocals and instant impact of Astrid S‘s previous material, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you may well be sorely disappointed. But if you have the time and the perseverance to get to know and understand her new style, you might just grow to love it.
Astrid S’ Leave It Beautiful is released this Friday, October 16th, and is available to pre-order and pre-save now.