Agnes: ‘Veritas’ (review)

Agnes: ‘Veritas’ (review)

A new Agnes album!

Christ it’s been just short of four years since her last album was released, ‘Dance! Love! Pop!’. And a lot’s happened to Agnes in those four years. For a start, she’s not the kind of artist who gives her albums titles like ‘Dance! Love! Pop!’ anymore. ‘Veritas’ is the new record, and will be released in Sweden on September 5th. Let’s review it.

Actually, let’s start with some expectations first though, yeah? Ok, so given that it’s been four years in the making, given the top notch quality of the album’s two preceding singles ‘One Last Time’ and ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’, and given that IT’S AGNES – expectations are obviously that ‘Veritas’ is going to be amazing, we think it’s fair to say. But we also think it’s fair to say that Agnes fans (ourselves included, up until we heard the album) weren’t really sure what to expect from it – especially since the big ballad ‘One Last Time’ struck much more of a chord with the Swedish public than the disco-tastic ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’. In fact, ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ hasn’t even been included on ‘Veritas’ – has she dropped the dance (love) pop completely?!

Of course not.

What we have here is a stonking great collection of what’s turned out to be an impressively unique style of pop music SLASH dance music. Agnes hasn’t changed her sound – she’s just evolved it, matured it, and in some ways even managed to better it. This might be hard to believe in a genre where so many ladies are doing up-tempo dancepop, but there’s actually nobody else doing it like Agnes is doing it right here. The album’s opening three tracks; ‘Amazing‘, ‘Walk Right Out Of Here‘, and new single ‘All I Want Is You‘, are produced by Jonas Quant, a man who is probably most famous for co-producing the debut album from Hurts, ‘Happiness’. He’s given those three (up-tempo) songs an Agnes friendly dance beat, but also a strangely ethereal sound too. Despite all three offering something different (‘Amazing’s rousing hand claps, ‘Walk Right Out Of Here’s earthy guitar thrown into the mix, or ‘All I Want It You’s lush strings), it’s these three songs that set the tone of the album. They’re a new brand of dancepop, a style which just isn’t out there by anyone else at the moment. ‘Amazing’ is probably the most interesting song on ‘Veritas’ actually. And yes, it does live up to its title. After a few listens.

Now let’s get to our three favourites on the album, ‘Loaded‘, ‘Into The Sun‘, and ‘Like God‘. Three songs quite different from each other, respectively offering up; icy electro meets 80s stadium rock; Agnes Carlsson meets Robyn’s producer Patrik Berger; and crying at the discoteque meets worship at the altar. How’s THAT for sonic disparity! All three are brought together though by one thing in common, and one thing we love more than probably anything else in music – a great big pop chorus. They’ve got it in spades.

One Last Time‘ reminded us how well Agnes was at doing a ballad, and she went and re-invented the wheel with that one while she was at it too. It’s joined on here by two more ballads – the similarly beat heavy and melodic ‘Watching It Burn‘ (laced with oodles of cinematic piano), and the heartbreakingly sad ‘Nothing Else Matters‘. ‘Nothing Else Matters’ put us in mind of another great Scandinavian pop ballad of recent years. A comparison that we’re not so sure how any of the people involved in making the song are gonna feel about. But we’re just gonna put it out there anyway. Amy Diamond’s ‘It Can Only Get Better’. Both fantastic songs. Simple as.

That just leaves ‘Human Touch‘ and ‘Got Me Good‘. Two songs that are probably the closest Agnes gets to the hits that she spawned from the aforementioned ‘Dance! Love! Pop!’ album. ‘Got Me Good’ pretty much sounds like an updated ‘Love Me Senseless’, which we remember was a big fan favourite. And ‘Human Touch’ is probably the most shamelessly, joyously, blissfully pop thing on here. It passed us by on our first couple of listens to the album, but boy has it caught our attention a week later.

So yes, anyone worrying that Agnes had dropped the pop, need not concern themselves anymore. She’s still doing it, and exceptionally well at that. Oh, and one final similarity between ‘Veritas’ and the previous album – once again there’s not a bad track on there.

Amazing
Written by: Agnes Carlsson, Ana Diaz, Jonas Quant
Produced by: Jonas Quant

Walk Out Of Here
Written by: Agnes Carlsson, Ana Diaz, Jonas Quant,
Produced by: Jonas Quant

All I Want Is You
Written by: Agnes Carlsson, Ana Diaz, Jonas Quant, Vincent Pontare
Produced by: Jonas Quant

One Last Time
Written by: Agnes Carlsson, Ana Diaz, Jonas Quant
Produced by: Jonas Quant

Loaded
Written by: Agnes Carlsson, Sharon Vaughn, Tony Nilsson
Produced by: Tony Nilsson

Human Touch
Written by: Agnes Carlsson, Vincent Pontare, Tony Nilsson
Produced by: Tony Nilsson

Watching It Burn
Written by: Agnes Carlsson, Sharon Vaughn, Tony Nilsson
Produced by: Tony Nilsson

Got Me Good
Written by: Agnes Carlsson, Magnus Lidehäll, Mim Nervo, Liv Nervo Vincent Pontare
Produced by: Magnus Lidehäll, Vincent Pontare

Like God
Written by: Agnes Carlsson, Shereen Shabana, Tony Nilsson
Produced by: Tony Nilsson

Into The Sun
Written by: Agnes Carlsson, Patrik Berger, Fredrik Berger
Produced by: Patrik Berger

Nothing Else Matters
Written by: Agnes Carlsson, Vincent Pontare, Sharon Vaughn
Produced by: Vincent Pontare

Up until the album’s release, we’re previewing each of the new songs every day. You can listen to the first three here.

‘Veritas’ is released on September 5th in Sweden. But pop fans outside of Sweden can pick up the CD from our online store here.

 

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