Thursday, March 23, 2017

So Good | Zara Larsson

Modesty really isn't Zara Larsson's thing. When it came time to announce the title of her international debut album, So Good, she told the United Kingdom's Official Charts that choosing such a brash title was easy, because "the album is so good." And her credentials merit a reason to boast: She hails from Sweden, a country that has produced pop royalty over the past few decades, where she found success as a child, winning the Swedish reincarnation of Got Talent at age ten, and surged in popularity with a regional debut album that was packed with signs of promise.

Soon afterwards, Larsson moved to break free from Scandinavia, haphazardly dispensing international singles like a faulty vending machine until one took here in the United States a year after its release. "Never Forget You," a nondescript party-in-a-box released under a dual byline with MNEK, gave the singer recognition but not an identity, which could explain why her follow-up singles have been thrown at a wall that is the Billboard Hot 100 and have bounced right back at her.

Nevertheless, Larsson is nothing if not persist on this album. An overabundance of commanding melodies is crammed into the album's singles, each of them painted with production that highlights the vocal ability that proved victorious on that televised competition show nine years ago. Now two years past its initial release, "Lush Life" has remained fresh with a deep, infectious groove that drives like none other on this album, and follow-up singles "I Would Like" and "Ain't My Fault" capitalize on the popularity of tropical house and shiny urban tones.

Despite its handful of midtempo snores in its latter half, So Good is nothing if not catchy and current. But by delivering music that is blatantly topical, Larsson refuses to solve the vital error in her career formula: She has yet to deliver us a personality worthy of our undivided attention for any longer than the run time of her most upbeat tracks. Like the ample Rihanna comparisons and dash of sex appeal, those bouncing beats and sweet melodies will carry her only so far – but luckily, at 19 years old, Larsson has time to prove just how good she really can be.

So Good is available now under Epic Records.

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