January has been a pretty stunning month for new Scandi music, so here’s our roundup of the best of the month. The Soundcloud list is pretty comprehensive, but criminally Zhala’s brilliant Aerobic Lambada is absent from YouTube.
We’ve been very vocal about our love for Lisa Alma (here and here) and so Sweater, her second album, is one of our most eagerly anticipated of the season. And here’s the first official single, Man. While still sounding notably like Lisa Alma, with delicate piano and her beautiful voice, it’s also a slight departure as it opens with a juddering electronic drum and takes her closer to Jessie Ware territory than she’s been up to now. It’s a thrilling taster of the album to come (on 16 February, date fans).
2014 was a great year for Scandi music, with albums from established stars like Lykke Li, iamamiwhoami and Neneh Cherry. But it also saw a huge influx of fresh young things releasing a track here or an EP there, ready to blow our minds in 2015. So here are the albums we’re most looking forward to in 2015 – from some familiar names, as well as a bunch of debuts. (And why not also refresh your mind of 2014 with our review of the year’s singles, albums and EPs.)
No such list could begin with anyone but Seinabo Sey, who is almost guaranteed to have a spectacular 2015 in Sweden, and probably abroad as well. She has been included alongside the likes of Robyn and Max Martin on a series of stamps celebrating Swedish music stars and has performed on British TV show Later with Jools Holland. Her songs are at the forefront of the Swedish soul revolution with her EP For Madeleine being among 2014’s very best. Whatever is to come from Seinabo in 2015, we will be awaiting it very eagerly.
Ji Nilsson slowly but definitely snuck into our lives in 2014. Our ears were first pricked by her stunning production work on Marlene’s Bon Voyage, followed by her even more stunning collaboration with Marlene on Love You Anyway. Then came her own singles I’m Her, Heartbreakfree (with added Gwengate controversy) and Encore and there was no doubting that we needed more of her laidback, beat-driven, vaguely tropical melodies in our life.
Way more than just a haircut, tracks have dribbled out of the Kill J camp at a glacial pace, but each one has been incredible in its own way, from the unique debut Phoenix, through the haunting You Have Another Lover to the pop melodies of Bullet and Cold Stone. New music has been promised for 2015 and we can’t wait.
Kate Boy are another act who haven’t exactly been rushing to release an album, but again have been worth the wait. Coming on a bit like The Knife, they have developed their own dirty electronic sound and thrilled audiences with pounding, artistic dance shows. Expect an album in the early part of 2015.
Their debut album has felt like such a long time coming, with so many delayed release dates, that we’ve almost forgotten about Say Lou Lou. But that’s unfair because they’ve never failed to release consistently excellent tracks (Beloved melts us) and they’ve spent so long making sure the album is just right that it shouldn’t let us down. Lucid Dreaming, as it has been titled, has been mastered and is promised for 2015 – we’ve even heard February mooted, but don’t be surprised if it’s pushed back a little.
The first non-debut on our list but we are super excited for the new album from Karin Park. Highwire Poetry was one of the enduring highlights of 2012 with its hard electronic beats, tender ballads and powerful Björk-esque vocals. Lead single Look What You’ve Done is similarly pounding. After Karin’s forays into the world of pop and Eurovision with possible protégée Margaret Berger we wouldn’t be surprised if this album has more “pop moments” than her previous work. Apocalypse Pop is out 2 March.
Busy Doin’ Nothin’ was a bonafide banger and following that we will look on anything Ace Wilder does with an interested eye. She has ruled out a return to Melodifestivalen and followed it up with the similarly energetic Riot. We’re not too sure of Ace’s plans for 2015 but she’d be crazy not to capitalise on the success of 2014 with an album. She seems like she has a level head on her shoulders and we reckon she’s approaching it with the same knack for a tune that saw her very nearly make it to a certain pan-European singing contest in 2014.
Susanne Sundfør has been wowing us since the release of her last album with a series of high-profile collaborations and now she’s ready for the release of her fifth album Ten Love Songs in February. Lead single Fade Away is spectacular stuff and this is sure to be a corker.
Several other acts are also readying albums as we speak. Firstly there’s Lisa Alma, who’s releasing her second album Sweater on 16 February, which will include the lush lead single Fine. Frida Sundemo has released a couple of gorgeous EPs in the last two years and an album in Japan, but a longer release of her emotional electronics is promised in 2015. We haven’t known about her for long but Snoh Aalegra astonished us with her soulful EP There Will Be Sunshine back in November and we are very excited to see what else comes from her this year. Another soulful yet poppy Swede who we hope to see more of in the year ahead is Naomi Pilgrim. Her recent single It’s All Good was her best yet so the omens are good. Icelander-cum-Dane DÍSA is also lining up her debut EP for release shortly which promises to reflect the Icelandic landscape in its icy electronics and haunting vocals, and will include Structure and Cure. Finally, to prove that we do listen to the occasional boy as well, both 1987 and XOV will be releasing more of their soulful electronic tunes, following up, respectively, Bomb and Animal from the soundtrack to The Hunger Games.
We haven’t heard much word on what these artists have up their sleeves for 2015, but we hope, and in some cases expect, to hear new music before the year is out. Niki & the Dove did say they hoped to get something out before 2014 was through, so surely we’ll get something from them this year. It’s now been two and a bit years since Loreen released her debut album Heal, and while we feel like she is someone who will always take her time over what she is doing, a steady stream of social networking posts of late make us think that something must be on the cards. Next up we would love to see a comeback from The Sound of Arrows. It was way back in 2011 that they released the magical, Pet Shop Boys recalling Voyage and their Facebook has gone very quiet for a very long time, but we live in hope. We also have an extremely soft spot for Faye. She was part of the girl group Play, and then embarked on a very brief solo career in 2012, when her tracks Come To Me, Water Against the Rocks and Breathe Out were among our highlights of the year. Since then it has been devastatingly quiet, but in spring 2014 she signed a new record deal and played a new song (the mysterious Whatever) in Stockholm in August. Maybe this’ll be the year things finally get off the ground for Faye. Finally, Robyn. We don’t really need to say much here, except that every year we hope to hear from Robyn, and we know that things are definitely afoot, including a collaboration with the sadly since deceased Christian Falk.