Sometimes, not very often, Eurovision presents us with someone who you want to find out much more about because you see a spark of something you want more of. Loreen, whom won for Sweden last year was one such entrant and her début album “Heal” is something of a sombre dance album revelation.
Opening with “In My Head” Loreen lays down what becomes her sound for the album. A throbbing bass beat and low brooding synth strings build the way. Loreen’s vocals are soft and delicate and she is careful not to over sing the verses or choruses as you get so much in dance music. When things open up a bit in the chorus there’s still plenty of space to provide the more mature vibe that’s going on. “My Heart is Refusing Me” is more classic dance with huge tom drums and a huge soaring chorus complete raving synths and catchy ad-lib hooks. “Everytime” returns to a much more sparse movement with muted piano slowly ticking over for the first third before any keyboards come into play for what is a beautiful track with minor chords a plenty. You won’t have deep lyrics a plenty (“got my shoes, got my bag, got my nails on” is one example) but certainly there is real potential for channelling something much deeper than your average Pop Jo. The of course there is the mammoth dance hit “Euphoria” which is almost unaltered from its Eurovision form aside from a string intro. It is certainly the most straight forward dance track on the album and is still a killer track.
“Crying Out Your Name” has an epic chorus. Loreen really goes for it in the choruses and its one of the few tracks that has a big strong snare drum. There’s big dreamy 90’s bright piano chords pushing through over the sombre synth strings that haunt the album. It’s this fine balance the album does so well that makes it stand taller than many others. “Do We Even Matter” gets the reverb out on drum sticks for the skipping down tempo beat. Again things are low-key and brooding and there’s a lullaby outro of a finger piano just gently tinkling away over the main chord melody. It’s assured and much more effecting than it has any right to be.
“Sidewalk” is more dub-step induced than the rest of the album with psychedelic arpeggios bleeding over the razor-sharp keyboards and works well as the token dub-step track. “Sober” returns to the catchy low-key whispery verse / vocal display chorus over earlier tracks but is more stop/start to make big distinctions between the two before the slightly more Eastern infused “If She’s The One” gives us some great use of the pitch bending wheel for string and keyboard samples. It’s used to great effect for the bridges while the slight trance twinges bubble below the strings. Everything feels warm but sad. “Breaking Down” and “See You Again” are the two more straight forward tracks, especially the latter which brings in some guitars and pianos for what is the pop track of the album and sounds like something that you’d get in the charts normally. Returning back the sombre electronica feel “Heal” closes the album with a heartfelt finale where Loreen cries out the chorus lines like a diva whilst the keyboards sound slightly warped and discordant. It’s a great vibe.
Astonished? I am! “Heal” is on the whole one of the most solid albums from a Eurovision artist I’ve come across in years. It’s got everything a guilty pleasure would usually have but is given a much more mature edge with slick production, excellent vocals and enough minor chords to make each song sound valid and non-cheesed. Highly, highly recommended for those who look for “good pop”.