Back in 2012, pop chanteuse Jennie Abrahamson’s album Gemini Gemini won a number of accolades in her native Sweden, as well as a nomination for IMPALA’s European Indie Album of the Year. It was difficult to see how she’d be able to top it. But not long after the release of that record, she spent an extensive period of time touring with Peter, Bjorn and John, an experience that would help to shape her latest album, Reverseries. Abrahamson was understandably tired after such a long time on the road, and while she had designs to make a short and fast pop record, things changed.
Her frame of mind led her to making an album that instead reflected the warmth of the sound she’d created live. As such, Reverseries is a record that manages to find a balance between icy synths and temperate, organic melodies. While tracks are as a whole longer than Abrahamson’s previous output (further reflecting the slow evolution the songs went through after her extended touring period), they never feel unnecessarily or artificially extended. Instead, there are enough flourishes injected into each track to keep them from feeling stale, from key changes to the addition of added melodic layers.
It’s rare to find synthpop that sounds glacial yet still distinctly human, and Abrahamson herself really helps to further add to that feeling with her own voice. She steals the show with her vocal performances, moving easily from gentle cooing to powerful pop vocals with ease. But it’s completely fitting that her vocals and the music should combine so well to create something surprisingly warm and organic, as Abrahamson pairs these tones with a strong focus on interpersonal relationships.
That doesn’t just mean a focus on love either, although that is, of course, an element. Indeed, two of the album’s standout tracks exemplify how adept Abrahamson is at analysing relatively common predicaments. The transcendent ‘Bloodlines,’ one of the first songs she wrote for the album, focuses on how oddly difficult it can be to present your true emotions to someone you’re incredibly close to, particularly family. Meanwhile, ‘To The Water’ is essentially about fanaticism and coming to terms with opposing beliefs, using baptismal and religious imagery (“take me down to the water”) to represent some form of salvation.
Interpersonal connections and emotions aren’t always completely at the centre of Reverseries’ world though. Occasionally Abrahamson strays into current affairs. ‘Not In My Name,’ one of the heavier tracks on the record in both sound and theme, sees her tackling issues including immigration (“when you close the gates it’s not in my name”). By not focusing on incredibly specific events and speaking for a collective of people, Abrahamson avoids the trap of sounding preachy. She adopts the position of an unnamed immigrant on ‘Anyone Who,’ speaking about how people perceive them as a united mass rather than individual humans (“I was invisible, not seen by anyone”). The point in the chorus is simple: “anyone who has a heart will show some mercy.”
‘Anyone Who’ is indicative of Abrahamson’s sound on Reverseries; she is both worldly and otherworldly, making ethereal pop that also has a very human emotional presence. Like its title suggests, it turns the perceived coldness of synthpop on its head and does so with aplomb.