Today – March 17th – Zara Larsson finally releases her first international album.
And it’s good news, guys!
Not only does it maintain a quality that never dips below a solid 7.5/10 over the course of 15 tracks, but it also reins in the disparate sounds that have been showcased over her past few singles, and balances everything out to a style that makes sense. There are some big highlights, and some massive hit singles past AND future. But at the heart of it all is a cohesive and killer record to keep returning to.
Here’s how the album is sounding, track by track;
WHAT THEY SAY
Written by Mark Landson, Marco Borrero, and Olivia Waithe
Produced by MNEK
Surprisingly, Zara Larsson opens her album with an eighties tinged, low-key love song. Though not a surprise in the context of the rest of the album. If you were worried that her last three singles were taking her more and more away from her own identifiable sound, ‘What They Say’, along with ‘Funeral’, ‘TG4M’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Be Yours’ are the rejuvenated bones of Zara Larsson’s follow-up album to ‘1’. And starting off the album with this song is the sign we wanted that she has indeed found her way back to forging her very own sound.
Written by Christoph Bauss, Markus Sepehrmanesh, Iman Hultén, Linnea Södahl, Emanuel Abrahamsson, and Fridolin Walcher
Produced by Shuko and Freedo
Scandinavia’s favourite pop song of 2015, which went on to become the rest of the world’s favourite pop song of 2016. And the song which cemented Zara’s status as the Global superstar that she is right now. It’s a summer-flavoured carefree tune that just won’t age. Which means we’re getting closer to a third summer in a row where we can enjoy it to the max yet again, living every day as if it was our last.
I WOULD LIKE
Written by Tony “CD” Kelly, Oliver Peterhof, Marcus Lomax, Karen Chin, Alexander Izquierdo, Jordan Johnson, Stefan Johnson, James Abrahart, and Zara Larsson
Produced by The Monsters x the Strangers
A banger so undeniable that it went from not-a-single-just-a-buzz-track-let’s-be-really-clear-about-that-thanks, to her highest charting UK single in a matter of mere weeks. It hung around the Top 5 for an eternity. And it’s still in the UK Spotify Top 50 today – even in a post-Ed Sheeran landscape. Tune.
SO GOOD feat. Ty Dolla $ign
Written by Danny Boy Styles, Jacob Kasher, LunchMoney Lewis, Charlie Puth, and Ty Dolla $ign
Produced by Charlie Puth and Danny Boy Styles
We’ve never been amongst the majority of pop fans who don’t seem to be that pushed (at best!) with ‘So Good’. But then as lovers of mid 90s r&b, and the many songs that are influenced by it, we were never likely to be, either. It’s a jam. And we’ve been listening to it lots since its release. But even before we heard the album it seemed like a very odd choice as a Zara Larsson single. And more so when you hear the rest of what’s on here. There are fourteen songs that scream SINGLE louder than this does. Although even if it may have almost derailed her international career (until track 15 came along – see below), we’re still very pleased that it’s made it onto the album.
Written by Markus Sepehrmanesh, Linnea Södahl, and Joakim Haukaas
Produced by Kid Joki
Once ‘Symphony’ does its business, this would make the perfect summer single. It’s ‘Lush Life’ as the sun goes down.
Written by Tobias «Astma» Jimson, Petra Marklund, Joakim Berg, Michel Rickard Flygare, and Markus Sepehrmanesh
Produced by Astma & Rocwell and Markus Sepehrmanesh
Joakim Berg does for Zara Larsson’s transition from domestic to international artist, what he did for September’s transition from international to domestic artist. But this time invites Petra herself along on co-writing duties. ‘Only You’ draws from country influences in its melody, to indie inspiration in its production – and ends up being one of the album’s finest pop songs.
NEVER FORGET YOU feat. MNEK
Written by Astronomyy, Zara Larsson, and MNEK
Produced by Astronomyy and MNEK
The urban symphonic masterpiece that started it all off for her in the UK and US. And it still bangs hard.
SUNDOWN feat. Wizkid
Written by Zara Larsson, Brian Garcia, Wizkid, Tor Erik Hermansen, Mikkel Eriksen, Jacob Kasher, Phil Shaouy, and Ammar Malik
Produced by Phil Shaouy, Brian “Peoples” Garcia, and StarGate
The Norwegian production duo behind many of Rihanna’s biggest hits create a Rihanna hit for Zara Larsson. A dancehall track during which you expect her to burst into “oh na na, what’s my name” at any second.
DON’T LET ME BE YOURS
Written by Johnny McDaid, Steve Mac, Zara Larsson, and Ed Sheeran
Produced by Steve Mac
This has got an obvious eighties feel to it, a hefty dose of BRASS, and a sublime “would you still love me, without no make-up on my face, without alcohol in your veins” lyric.
MAKE THAT MONEY
Written by Ajay Bhattacharyya, Vic Mensa, Zara Larsson, Erik Hassle, Daniel Ledinsky, John Hill, and Markus Sepehrmanesh
Produced by STiNT and John Hill
This is probably our favourite non-single on the album. An epic feminist anthem that only uplifts, and never patronises. This is Zara’s Twitter personality put into a song. And if you’re aware of Zara’s Twitter personality, you don’t need us to tell you that goes OFF. “we gon’ celebrate, one love, that’s all there ever was, we can conquer hate”.
AIN’T MY FAULT
Written by Markus Sepehrmanesh, MNEK, and Zara Larsson
Produced by Mike Spencer and MNEK
Zara Larsson is the sassiest popstar around right now, and this is the sassiest song on her album. Go figure. And it can’t be just us who now announces the arrival of their journey home at 4am with “I just called an Uber and it’s right outside”.
Written by Julia Michaels and Fred Ball
Produced by Fred Ball
Almost militant in how rousing it is, ‘One Mississippi’ is one of the best compositions Zara’s ever put her name to. It’s certainly one of the catchiest and most instant numbers on here. And the songwriting of Julia Michaels and Fred Ball puts Zara’s vocal to work at its very best.
Written by Ana Diaz, Zara Larsson, and Jason Gill
Produced by Jason Gill and Markus Sepehrmanesh
For those of you who preferred Zara’s music when it was being restricted to a Scandinavian only release – This One’s For You. It’s the Zara Larsson that the rest of us all fell in love with before anyone else knew about her. And we’re so pleased that this Zara never actually went away.
I CAN’T FALL IN LOVE WITHOUT YOU
Written by Christian Waltz, Hampus Lindvall, and Jerker Olov Hansson
Produced by Hampus Lindvall
The album’s only ballad – most likely because it’s a ballad so awesome, no others were needed. “I can be out every night, no one else holding me down. I can do what I like…..but I can’t fall in love without you”. A heart-wrencher of a love song sprinkled with Zara’s typically unsubtle put downs. The first heartbreak love song to wish limp dick upon its protagonist? Most likely.
SYMPHONY (Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson)
Written by Ammar Malik, Ina Wroldsen, Jack Patterson, and Steve Mac
Produced by Clean Bandit
As massive Zara Larsson fans, it almost pains us to say that the best song on her album is the one with her as a featured artist. But she won’t be mad. ‘Symphony’ is pure euphoria. And the very definition of feelgood bliss in a pop song. It’ll be the one of the biggest singles of the year when it’s released on March 17th. And it’s currently the best single of the year too.