Loreen “Heal” Album Review

As a fag scorned and spat upon for never following the Eurovision Song Contest, I would say my immediate attraction to this year’s winner is something of a hallowed turnaround. I may, once again, hold my head up high in a gay bar.

LOREEN HEAL

Sweden’s dance/pop raven Loreen captured me at first instance with her bewitching interpretative dance performance of the champion Eurovision song, ‘Euphoria’, which swiftly raced up the charts around the world after taking the crown and even became the first non-UK Eurovision song to make the Top 3 in the UK charts since 1987.

I had so little knowledge of the mononymed artist that every move felt like she was deliberately building a mystery. The heavy bangs, the steely gaze, and that icy-yet-pleading vocal performance in ‘Euphoria’ all set the tone for what was to complete my Loreen experience.



The 29-year old’s debut album Heal is an alluring blend of pulsating dance pop that feel more subtle than what one might initially expect from a Eurovision pop purveyor.

In the current pop market that is already fluent in electronic dance music parlance, Heal speaks a language of its own – shrugging off trendy dubstep inflections in favour of a richer soundscape that enhance its emotive lyrics rather than compete with it. Most tracks on the album are smoothened with waves of atmospheric synths and lush orchestral strings, which really complement Loreen‘s own chilled vocal delivery.

Standouts like the tormented ‘My Heart is Refusing Me’ is a showcase of pedigree dance balladry – just like ‘Euphoria’ – it comes complete with a chorus that formulaically expands after periods of restraint verses. If there is any justice, her international label would release this 2011 single now following her mainstream breakthrough.



The splendid ‘Crying Out Your Name’ – with its percolating synths and drum ‘n’ bass beats – is such a relatable self-destructive break up track. It totally got me with its raw flares of frustration and desperation.

“So don’t you ask me where I’m gonna be tonight. Don’t ask me if I’m gonna be alright. I’ll be crying out your name, drink through all this pain tonight. I don’t even want to fight. I know when the battle’s lost… the painful things you did to me. I’ll do them all to someone else. And that is how it’s gonna be – it takes a lot of self-defence.”

The aforementioned three singles – all produced by SeventyEight (who worked on Kerli‘s ‘Zero Gravity) – make sense as the shining ambassadors of Loreen‘s album but they’re not necessarily indicative of its scope.



Elsewhere, the ethereal ballad ‘Everytime’ harks to the downtempo gems Anggun used to turn out in her prime. I mean, this song was almost designed for soundtracking introspective moments when you’re soaking in the bath, contemplating your next move. I appreciate the deliberately stripped back, acoustic setting in the opening recital of verse one before she repeats it over a bed of winding synths and claps.

As far as cohesion goes, Heal serves a masterful blend of crowd-pleasing Eurodance in its obvious singles candidates and more distilled, chill out sounds. It’s essentially a cathartic break up album – as the title would suggest – offering salvation for disparate moments, whether you’re throwing on the Louboutins to dance the tears away or simply staying at home with the cat, blogging your feelings on Tumblr.

Footnotes:

Loreen‘s Heal will be released digitally in Australia on 26 October.

Advertisements

5 Comments

  1. I think I just died and went to heaven…

    SEE THIS IS WHY I LOVE YOU! I was just gonna write on the Chart Feed page about how much I’m digging this album then YOU WENT AHEAD AND WROTE A REVIEW FOR IT. Gosh. Totally hyperventilating right now.

    And the Anggun mention! Lawd.

    I don’t know, ‘Heal’ came at the right time as I was browsing the net a week ago and stumbled upon it on the net. I listened to the previews and was simply blown away. I’ve never been so emotionally slayed by an album since Utada’s ‘This is The One’. My only critique to ‘Heal’ is probably its rather samey production, but heck, the songs are so good and Loreen’s voice is ridiculously wonderful.

    ‘Everytime’ is indeed a standout, since the first time I listened to its preview. It’s sexy and sad at the same time, which -in a way- plays like a sequel (or prequel?) to Anggun’s ‘Still Reminds Me’ coupled with the sensuous backing track of ‘Comme un privilege’.

    I also love ‘Sober’ (the “I want to wake up with you next to me… will you be there?” part never fails to get me) and ‘See You Again’. The title track is awesome too.

    And isn’t ‘My Heart is Refusing Me’ already the 2nd international single?

    The Anggun comparisons are pretty dead-on, you know… perhaps Loreen is a fan? Her look definitely has the vibe of Anggun circa Snow on the Sahara (the whole sexy-yet-subtle, mystical, ethereal thing going on) and I don’t know if it’s my stanning mind saying, but the video of ‘Euphoria’ DOES have some strikingly similar vibes to ‘Mon meilleur amour’. AND they both did Eurovision earlier this year.

    PS : I never quite realized that a lot of Anggun’s stuff is downtempo, to be honest. It really is true, isn’t it?!

    • BAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I am so glad you appreciate! :D xx

      Is ‘MHIRM’ confirmed as the international single? Hmm. Have to badger the local Warner Music representative to see what’s up. It needs to head out to radios already, given that the album’s out in AU.

      And *YES* at ‘Everytime’ recalling ‘Still Reminds Me’ – I think they both share lyrical references to getting nails done and performing various “mundane activities”.

      I wish Anggun would go back to making more chill out, synth-based music with world beats influences.

  2. Now let’s take a moment of appreciation to the brilliance that is ‘Still Reminds Me’… can we talk about its uber sexy and stylish MV? Lawd. Anggun circa Chrysalis was at her sexiest, period.

    I’d like that too, because that was sort of her signature style… but she’s done good thus far. Have you listened to ‘Echoes’? What an album. I think that was quite an artistic statement on her part… who else would follow up something like ‘Elevation’ with that type of album?! I truly appreciate the low-key, subtle and clean production on it. And I don’t know if you notice, but there’s this new pristine and clean quality to her voice that just wasn’t there before.

    I read what you said on Twitter about ‘Heal’ being ” the dance/pop record we wish Leona Lewis would’ve made” or something in that vein, it was interesting since a friend of mine mentioned it to me how Loreen’s voice reminds him of Leona’s… and I never ever realized that! Now I get it. I can definitely her Leona doing ‘Calling Out Your Name’, but thing is, there’s actual depth and emotion in Loreen, while Leona is more on the bland side.
    I still like her though, and the new album is solid. :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s