Swedish-born, Berlin-dwelling, world-travelling singer Molly Nilsson is deep into her career now, and she is still feeling melancholy. Imaginations puts her feelings into sweet synth-pop songs that swoon moodily in the way only Molly Nilsson songs can: cool, catchy, nostalgic and distant-eyed. Imaginations is released by Night School.
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Sunshine in black and white. That’s what Molly Nilsson’s music tends to sound like to me; bright, beaming and full of colour, I imagine her downtempo pop songs to be disguising a whole spectrum of the rainbow behind the gray scale. ‘Imaginations’, her new record for Night School, makes few upgrades on her signature sound, but its seamless segues and refinements on her sparse sound make it her best ever record of distant pop music.
Using the usual mix of sturdy beats, gorgeous and simple piano lines, plus her faraway but focused vocals, Nilsson creates a record that feels strangely personal and private, even as it opens wide the space that exists between all of her pieces. The record gains an almost referential gravitas in its use of pop touchstones, from the gorgeously lamenting sax of “Let’s Talk About Privileges” to the twanging guitar and dubbed pace of “Mona”. On “American Express” she crafts a super twee tune a la Stephin Merritt on a synth pattern that sounds like an intuitive preset. These tricks are masterful and suggest the versatility packed into Nilsson’s notoriously cohesive sound.
Fans of Nilsson will know what to expect and can easily dig on these compact tunes, but you might be struck by how expansive and bursting from the seams ‘Imaginations’ can sound: “Inner Cities” carves out the usual lo-fi environment but its synths gaze upwards and its palm-muted flickers draw up something like a sandy beach for your perusal. Another great edition in her consistent discog, for sure -- but it’s also got some of the best and biggest songs, too.
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