Wed, Jun 14, 2023 at 7:00 AM
Artists have always had a knack for understanding the strange psychological sorcery that comes with crushing on someone. Stockholm-based artist waterbaby - intimately knows the tiny nuances between love – which is to say, the bond between two people – and the one-sided, up-and-down feelings of infatuation: the plaintive longing, the shifty wanting and the not-wanting, and all the luxuriously intrusive thoughts that come with them. If you’re at all familiar with the patterns of this (il)logic, you’ll find a welcome home in the world of waterbaby’s rhapsodic, technopastoral crush songs.
With the Foam EP, her Sub Pop debut, waterbaby’s auto-tunelets work like this: there’s the confessional of sisterly, guitar-assisted warmth infused with humane, sticky lyrics that surface in your head like bubbles floating to the top of an aquarium. Along with producer and collaborator Marcus White, waterbaby creates a mystic sort of blend – the songs feel spell-like, but they honor the feelings of what it’s like to love, or at least to want to feel loved.
The chief love in waterbaby’s life has always been music, of course. It’s infused in her blood: her great-grandad was a jazz pianist; her uncle worked in clubs and arranged concerts, and that Stockholmian syndrome of preternaturally knowing how to craft the perfect song – it’s a part of her that’s palpable in everything she writes or touches.
It could be because she’s got a choir-school upbringing that’s done something to her voice – made it familiar with Pythagorean melodies and spare, delicate ideas that sound simple at first but really get into the spiritual in their own way. “My parents hated the music I listened to,” she laughs, talking about her private love of the megastars of R&B that she’d sainted as paragons of sounds and feelings that accessed the full range of emotions that she was getting familiar with.
On Foam, those emotions range from sad to empathetic, from hopeful to cocky, from doleful to ecstatic. “Airforce blue,” with its tones as liquidly bright as a fish whipping through the ocean, gives form to the feel of the latter sort of pain. “I still miss you” goes the chorus over and over again, if that’s any help. Crushes and longing seem to map her life over with meaning and joy.
“911” – with the whee-oo whee-oos – moves with an even more doleful indulgence. “Call me when you need someone / I could be your 911,” she sings, like a lovelorn operator on the other end of the line.
On the glistening “Wishing well,” swirling vocal effects, and lyrics of unrequited love – “Yeah, we tried to feel it all, wanted to see it all / Wanted to be it all / So why don’t you need my love? / I-want-you-to-need-my-love” – ride waves of piano arpeggios that swell, break, and crash into themselves.
With Foam, waterbaby gets it: loneliness and love aren’t mutually exclusive ideas– they’re sometimes part of the same thrust of feeling. Believing in that idea seems to be her governing motive. Because like faith, like a crush, her music is a quick and deep way of reaching beyond yourself.
Foam, featuring the singles “911,” “Airforce blue,” and “Wishing well,” was written by waterbaby and Marcus White, executive produced and mixed by White, and mastered by Johan Åkerström at Cosmos Mastering, all in Stockholm, Sweden.
Wed, May 3, 2023 at 7:00 AM
Tue, Apr 25, 2023 at 9:00 AM