One thing Sigrid is going to do is going to deliver a killer hook. While many in her shoes would simply be satisfied with becoming yet another teen pop sensation with no substance to their music, she manages to find something fresh and interesting to explore every time, and this is exactly what we get again on her highly-anticipated sophomore effort How To Let Go as she simultaneously adopts a more mature and complex persona.
While Sigrid stays loyal to her pure pop sound, she allows herself to experiment with the mainstream trends this time, putting a sort of sonic duality at the centre of the record even though these two sides often compete for a space. Not that How To Let Go is as jerry-built as it sounds but the banging first half is particularly well put together. The anthemic opener “It Gets Dark” is laced with one heck of a drum beat and showcases the singer’s underappreciated vocal skills as she opens up about her life on tour. A powerful statement on outer beauty and inner struggles, confidence-boost “Mirror” features one of the best instrumentals on the album while touching upon the themes of self-love and individuality. And glitter-blasted disco tune “Burning Bridges” is simply a gorgeous bedroom-pop bop that recalls 80s dance floor heaters. However, the lyrical content fails to catch up with the quality of production at times. Lines such as “I love who I see lookin’ at me in the mirror” feel too impersonable and indulgently cliché. That is a bit of a running issue throughout the album. Luckily, Sigrid’s ear for irresistible melodies is enough to carry the record. But this does not necessarily mean How To Let Go does not have its higher moments lyrically.
As we dip in the middle, on a more contemplative side, the singer gets reflective on an outstanding piano ballad titled “Last To Know,” which sets the stage perfectly for one of the highlights of both the album and her repertoire to date as well: “A Driver Saved My Night.” An epic synth-dance track inspired by the kindness shown by strangers in a moment of vulnerability, when all you need is a taxi ride to somehow ascend out of loneliness. And then there is this rather odd collaboration with Bring Me The Horizon, “Bad Life,” where neither of the artists truly show their best, but the contrast between Oli Sykes’ raspy vocals and Sigrid’s clean crisp voice is beautiful. The same sentiments of hope and wisdom that were manifested on “A Driver Saved My Night” also echoes on “Bad Life” as the duo sing “It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.” Thanks to the slow acoustic numbers provided by the closer “High Note,” How To Let Go perfectly concludes with a shiver-inducing key change and Sigrid’s fantastic execution.
How to Let Go is an album grounded in reality and perceptivity at its core. It is fun, captivating, and wildly enjoyable, but it also serves as somewhat of a cathartic experience for Sigrid as she lets herself sit in her low moments to decipher the lessons she gained on her way back to the highs. Even though the banal lyricism in some of the tracks wears thin as the album progresses, the effort put on the thematics still remains focused and builds a monumental body of work that draws from sheer creative power and gusto from start to finish.