Perfect Storm follows up on Vanbot's 2011 self-titled debut album. Having shelved an entire album's worth of material back in 2013, Vanbot (real-name Ester Ideskog) went back to the drawing board. Faced with a creative meltdown she chose to re-focus on something with more 'bite'...
And as electro-pop goes, Perfect Storm does indeed bite. This is ice-like cool Scandinavian pop. The comparisons with Robyn are obvious, but borderline lazy... Whilst both stars make razor-sharp female synth-heavy pop, the quality of music offered here is no simple inferior imitation.
As an album Perfect Storm is densely packed with catchy, single-worthy tracks. The Way You Say It is Vanbot at her most direct - a giant heartfelt chorus packed with big synth hooks. The sound throughout the album is consistent, but tracks play with it in different ways. In contrast to the album's more forthright moments, Adam Olenius collaboration Watching You Sleep is a complex and densely layered track, complete with a string section and a gorgeously softly-sung duet. And songs like Maniac demonstrate the bite Ideskog was striving for, insistent vocals aggressively hurling accusations.
It is pretty astounding just how many big Scandavian pop songs are crammed into Perfect Storm. If it were much longer than the 49-minutes a complete listen requires it might feel disorientating. There is a sense of narrative here that hints at progression, yet if you were to level a criticism at Vanbot's new album it would have to be that when emotion is consistently amped up to 11 it starts to feel a little irrelevant, and whilst the production is consistently slick and impressive it is never adventurous nor challenging.
Perfect Storm's closing title track, part two of a two part track that bookends the release, feels like a suitably cinematic close for the album... It is the perfect way to leave the listener wanting more. Vanbot and her co-writers Jan Kask and the aforementioned Adam Olenius (who have also worked with Say Lou Lou, Tove Styrke and Shout Out Louds) clearly know their way around a tune. The result is a solid album... By taking a little more risk Vanbot has the potential to make a great one.
Perfect Storm is released on 15 May through Lisch Recordings & Sony Music Sweden. Order from Amazon.co.uk on MP3 [affiliate link], and check out The Way You Say It below.