If there’s one thing we know about the Swedish music industry, is that it should never be overlooked. Following international successes like Robyn, Lykke Li, Tove Lo or Zara Larsson, Sweden is still filled to the brim with musical talent.
Sophia Somajo, a singer-songwriter who is well known for writing chart hits with her publisher Max Martin, is a prime example. She recently stepped into the spotlight for the first time since 2012 to release her latest mini-album, Freudian Slip.
Stockholm-born Sophia Somajo is known for being a bastion of independence: she writes, records and produces her own music. However, this time, the approach was different: Sophia brought in outside producers like Patrik Berger (Lana Del Rey) and Michel Flygare (Tove Lo).
The artist herself describes the album as “an important milestone in my life both personally and artistically. It’s about craving change. Wanting to be hit hard and reminded of what it feels to be alive. To break free from ill-fitting ideas of myself that I have grown out of, but became so used to identifying with that I’ve held myself back”.
Freudian Slip is a mix of electronic production with pop vocals where none of the seven songs sounds like the one before or has any interest in falling into the typical traps of popular music tastes.
The album starts off with “Klein Blue”, an homage to the deep blue hue created by artist Yves Klein. With lyrics like “You see that I’m a Klein blue, And I shine through; don’t I shine through to you, to you? If I hit the light, Ain’t I pretty?” and an ethereal, epic chorus, Somajo compares herself to a colour and wishes to be as deep as this particular blue shade.
“Mouth To Mouth” follows promptly with an incredibly catchy chorus and a cry for help whose lyrics clash with the electronic pop fusion in a most wonderful way. The strong lyrics have Somajo singing about feeling lonely and wanting to use sex to feel anything other than the void and her fears. The tone doesn’t get any lighter in “Amphetamine”, where amidst a powerful beat and synths, the artist implores for someone to give her amphetamines and save her.
“Sapphire” turns the page and focuses on love, loss and self-confidence. Somehow reminiscent of Sia without sounding anything like her (maybe it’s picking an object as the subject of the song), “Sapphire” is sweet and tragic, telling the story of a lover who is so rare and precious, he’s too good.
Maybe that description doesn’t sound cheery, but the song itself isn’t sad. It’s a theme in the whole album: if you don’t listen to the lyrics you might mistake it for shallow, albeit interesting and well sung, Pop.
“A Million Songs” is the most radio-ready song on the album, being the one that least relies on electronic sounds. It’s about love and being loved back: Somajo sings “’Cause a million songs get written about it, It’s an ancient old cliché. Oh, when are you going to love me?”.
Her voice is clearer, softer, more melodic than anywhere else on the album. It’s not the best song, so being radio-ready isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. But, still, it brings a nice change of pace to the work as a whole.
Lastly, we have “Smoke” and “The Last Summer”. “Smoke” is about the end of a relationship, accompanied by a strong beat and unique vocals. “The Last Summer” is the only collaboration on the album, with Seinabo Sey, a Swedish-Gambian singer. The upbeat track is a trip down memory lane, free and light-hearted.
A good way to end an album that is clearly a journey of coming to terms with different feelings and phases of life. It is also a strong, compact album that favours quality over quantity, focuses on strong lyrics than rather than vocal gimmicks and ultimately proves that Pop can still be indie.
Sophia Somajo’s Freudian Slip is out now, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Joana Coelho