LEAVING aside the Anglophone countries, there’s a cast-iron case that no other country has engaged with the world of post-1955 popular music quite like Sweden.
There’s that acronymical band, two As, two Bs; you’ve probably heard the odd tune by them.
But look past them at Avicii, Lykke Li, First Aid Kit, The Cardigans, The Concretes, The Hives … there is now such a tradition and so much talent out there coming from Sverige.
Step forward 4AD, who bring us the debut worldwide release for songwriter and surreally-ranged vocalist Thea Gustaffson, who records as Becky and the Birds.
Hailing from the small city of Örebro, 200km west of Stockholm, Thea made her debut under the Becky and the Birds name in 2018 with a self-titled EP.
She grew up steeped in music: be it traditional folk, her sister’s love of contemporary R&B, her father’s accordion or her own time playing violin in orchestras. She attended the prestigious Musikmakarna in Stockholm, where she first really encountered pop music for the first time.
And you can hear the depth of influence she brings on the 4AD EP, Trasslig, which is out now.
We’ve picked just one track, the hyper-futuristic soul-pop of “Paris”, the lyric video for which you can watch below. It’s so delicate, otherworldly, and just check that soprano range. It’s soul as imagined in some ecstatic dream; as you’d expect might come to us in about, oooh, 2040. Did I mention that voice? The grace, the fragility?
Elsewhere on the seven-tracker you can find gems like “Do U Miss Me?” a slow, bruised gospel burn reimagined for the space age; or the crisp swing of “Wondering”: on this latter, wait until her voice lofts up and gives Minnie Riperton pause for thought.
So, the title. Trasslig? It’s a Swedish word that translates to the English as ‘entangled, messy, intricate’. The EP is a intended as a celebration of the complexity of womanhood.
Thea says: “People are scared of women who could be both powerful and vulnerable at the same time, and there’s no space for that. But it’s okay to be trasslig, to be all the parts of yourself.”
If you’re seduced by any of the artists out there refashioning pop and soul into new and luscious and off-kilter forms, teleported back to the now – be it Björk, be it Janelle Monáe, Grimes, Jockstrap; then you need Becky and the Birds in your ears and your life.
Becky And The Birds’ Trasslig EP is out now. Purchase yours via a variety of platforms here.