Few rays of light shine out for highly anticipated debut by the Swedish teenager.
19-year old Swedish pop sensation Zara Larsson has been one of the most talked about artists of the last 18 months with her balance of shimmering vocals and carefree attitude. Her ability to create straightforward pop hits is impressive and debut album So Good highlights this the most. Opening track What They Say displays a mark of self-confidence and loyalty, highlighting our need to remain true to ourselves. Larsson comes into an industry distinctively different to what it was 10 years ago and now, in a world in which there is increased weight to the words said on social media, the track is a message of defiance and strength. The 2015 breakthrough hit, Lush Life speaks of living in the moment amongst a funky bass line and dancehall synths and TG4M, with its combination of synths and drums, adds a stylish, desirable dimension to the track. Its use of distorted vocals adds a different effect to the track which is refreshing amongst the many attempts of summer pop anthems.
I Would Like is very similar to fellow pop princess Jess Glynn but with amped up effects and a big dance drop. Leading line “I would like to get under your sexy body” could arguably be called out for being shallow, and whilst it remains the singer’s most successful UK track, it doesn’t stand out in the album. Larsson finally hits her stride as a songwriter when she chooses to tackle the important issues in society. Make That Money Girl is a wonderful feminist anthem, promoting social and economic equality. Line “Why you so hesitant? / You cold be the next female president” highlights the artists feelings towards female empowerment and the track is a strong example of what Larsson can do when the track is given the space it deserves and is not overproduced.
Unfortunately though, there are moments in which the tracks feel too forced in production. The Ed Sheeran co-written track Don’t Let Me Be Yours starts wth a calm guitar intro, reminiscent of Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself, which is promising until it launches into an overdone Major Lazer styled drop. Another unfortunate weakness are in the collaborative songs. The title track featuring Ty Dollar $ign comes out as distinctly average, failing to light a spark at any point in the track. Sundown which features Nigerian singer songwriter Wizkid, is slightly more distinct with the artist’s African influence but still fails to ignite anything in the track. The only exception on the album is the MNEK featuring Never Forget You, which with it’s rousing chorus and piano groove playing underneath, is the standout track on the album. Larsson’s vocals shine throughout the track and with MNEKs soulful vocals and beats added on, the track is a masterpiece.
Another highlight is the distinctive Only You, which despite its off-putting first line “I don’t want to shower, even if I stink”, sees Larsson channel her inner Rihanna in a seductive, sex driven track. The carnal impression throughout the track is a welcome change from the mostly innocent summer pop that the Swedish singer provides, which eventually, towards the end of the album starts to get a bit too much. Stacked with ballads, the end of the album just seems like a surrender with its generic pop tracks crying for something original to boost them. Recent Clean Bandit collaboration Symphony provides little rest-bite with it’s violin and lyrics seeming too forced. It’s a shame really, as there are some real highlights on the album which show the originality and potential of the Swede but they get hidden amongst generic, wannabe pop tracks which eventually drag the album to a slow, lacklustre ending.