Linda Sundblad: Manifest (Album Review)

I was first introduced to Linda Sundblad back in 2006 after hearing her latest single at the time, “Oh Father.”

The song is a woefully delicious number, in which we find the guilt-ridden songstress pleading for forgiveness for indulging in dirty thoughts and some occasional self-pleasuring. “Touch of my Hand” it was not, but as with any singer who dives into that territory (see what I did there?), I was hooked. Soon after came Sundblad’s debut, Oh My God!, a compelling collection of meaty, fresh sounding pop tunes.

Four years later, Sundblad has returned to the Swedish music scene with Manifest. The album, much like its predecessor, is a bold pop record complimented by ’80’s synthesizers and modern electro noise.

Unlike some of the more forced pop revival efforts of late, there’s no pretense in the solid pop that Sundblad has produced for us here, making Manifest as instantly enjoyable as her debut.

With a touch of Madonna, a dollop of Ashlee Simpson, and a rich scoop of Robyn, Sundblad races through the whole of her album with sounds and words inspired by many of her pop contemporaries. The massive “Let’s Dance” is the perfect marriage of the three aforementioned artists, reveling in licks of faux-rock, classic dance rhythms, and brash delivery style.

While some of the brattier party anthems like “Making Out” and “2 All My Girls” may be slightly too cheeky for some, the hard hitting beats and slinky grooves scattered within the rest of Manifest have the ability to convert even the staunchest non-believers.

Highlights include “Intro (Choices),” the Kleerup-produced “History,” and “Damage,” the album’s shining triumph. Starting with a minimal synth beat and working into a sophisticated, ’80’s-tinged groove, the song evolves into an incredibly danceable contemplation: “Can we make up for the damage, or should I leave you out of my life for good?” The pain aches, but the beat feels so, so good.

While the album’s lyrics may be laden with heartbreak and tears, the sunny sounds of Manifest refuse to let itself to wallow in sorrow.

Perhaps the cheeriest of the bunch is “Suicide Girl,” a most fascinating, contradictory little ditty (and basically the musical version of one of my favorite Engrish tees).

While undeniably upbeat, Sundblad happily runs through the reasons she’s no good for this world. “Took too many pills, dialed 911, and now I’m playing cute in an ambulance.” It’s bound to offend a few, delight a few more, and keep everyone else talking.

Manifest is about as blissful as a pop record can be without crossing the border of camp. If you want a reason to smile, grab this one now.

Choice tracks: Intro (Choice), Damage, Suicide Girl, History

Manifest is now available worldwide on iTunes.

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