Photo: Robert Henriksson.
Wait, are we celebrating? Fuck yeah, we are! One of Sweden’s finest lyricists, Annika Norlin, just released another record. What the hell, who am I kidding really? Annika is Sweden’s finest lyricist. Not that it’s really a competition, but she is absolutely outstanding. Annika Norlin writes and perform music using two different stage names. One for her Swedish releases – Säkert! – and one for her English releases – Hello Saferide. Well, this description is a little bit of a lie, because a few years ago she actually made an English album as Säkert! where she had translated the Swedish lyrics from the record Facit and a few other tracks as well. Confused yet? Don’t be. Just listen to her and enjoy being alive.
The new record I’m talking about belongs to Annika Norlin’s Hello Saferide project. It’s called The Fox, The Hunter and Hello Saferide. And I’m not surprised it’s a really great album. I’m sure that by the end of 2014, it’ll be on many Swedish Album of the Year lists. They usually are. Her records.
However, I’m more interested in talking about the earlier releases from Hello Saferide and Säkert! (Säkert! means Sure! in Swedish, by the way.) The first Hello Saferide album – Introducing… – opens with the track My Best Friend, where Norlin sings: “Damn! I wish I was a lesbian / Damn! I wish I was, so I could fall in love with you”. In my opinion, this record really stands as a classic when it comes to Swedish indie pop. Well worth many listens.
Hello Saferide – My Best Friend
A couple of years later, Norlin released her debut Swedish album as Säkert! This was her major break as a musician. In one of the singles, Allt som är ditt, Norlin sings a brutal and devastating story about how she wants to take revenge on the men who raped a woman. Norlin singing “De jävlarna ska skjutas” (“Those bastards will be shot”) with poignant anger in her voice gives me the chills every time I hear it. Another amazing song from this record is Vi kommer att dö samtidigt and luckily enough a Swedish indie rock act called The Animal Five (let’s get back to these guys at some other point) made a great cover of this one. Let’s have a listen (skip to 1:10):
The Animal Five – We’re Going to Die
I hope a lot of you who read this will give Säkert!’s debut album a listen or two, even if you won’t understand the lyrics. The melodies are beautiful, too. There’s also the album Facit that I mentioned earlier, and quite a few of Säkert!’s songs were – as I wrote – also translated into English and put on an album called Säkert! på engelska (Säkert! in English).
If you’re not into the whole Swedish language thing (but why wouldn’t you be?) just stick to Annika Norlin’s songs as Hello Saferide. I’d recommend the record More Modern Short Stories From Hello Saferide as an introduction. The opening track alone is simply brilliant:
People are like songs, it’s true
Some seem dull at first but then they grow on you
Me, I’m like ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’
Annoying at times but I make you wanna dance
And you are the only one I’ve met who’s ‘God Only Knows’
I liked you the first time I met you, and it grows and grows and grows
People are like songs, I swear
Some found you as a child and still they’re always there
A boy I once knew was ‘Anarchy in the UK’
Burned out too quickly but in such a beautiful way
Hello Saferide – I Wonder Who is Like This One
So, how come I claim Annika Norlin to be Sweden’s finest lyricist? She has a unique naked way of writing about everyday life and everything that comes with it. Good and bad. Never glorified, never understated. It’s just life. As we all know it. In the song Travelling with HS, she sings: “I’m not stupid, I understand that it would be convenient if I was better at conversation / I’ve learned to master the skill throughout the years / Small talking, but after an hour or so, I mentally die”. I could go on and on about lyrics from this Hello Saferide record (don’t even get me started on the anguished “You stupid fuck, you need to come back!” in 25 Days. And speaking of that one… “You and I hadn’t even met 24 days ago / I must have been so low / And I didn’t even know”) but let’s just say that I recommend it with all my heart. I recommend Annika with all my heart. Let’s just stop here. With a quote from the song 2008: “We’re not worth more than anyone else but surely not worth less”. You’re right, Annika. As always.
Hello Saferide currently has 223 169 listeners on Last.fm.
Säkert! currently has 77 485 listeners on Last.fm.