There was a time when Eric Saade would release three albums in the space of eighteen months. And three bloody good albums, at that. Nowadays though, he’s taking his time. And after an almost two year wait, next week he comes out with a new album into which he’s been putting a tremendous amount of work (he’s co-written all but one of the thirteen songs on here). And it’s not just his release scheduling that has altered dramatically…….
It goes without saying that anyone looking for another ‘Manboy’ or ‘Popular’ on this album can politely look elsewhere as far as Saade is concerned. But even if you’re looking for another ‘Hotter Than Fire’, you’re still searching in the wrong place. Eric Saade has moved on from where he was two years ago. And inevitably, so has his sound. Even more so than we thought it would. Although, thankfully that hasn’t turned out to be a bad thing. Instead, all grown up as it is, the album is still a solid pop record. And it’s a credit to it that from our perspective – those who would like him to still be recording songs like ‘Made Of Pop’, ‘Fingerprints’ and ‘Love Is Calling’ – we can still be won over by this new album. He’s changed his sound completely. But he’s went about it the right way.
Pop moments like ‘Coming Home’ and ‘Marching (In The Name Of Love)’ sit alongside and merge into mid-tempo r&b like ‘Till I Break’ and ‘In My Head’. And there’s an eighties electrofunk trinity taking pride of place on there too – the ‘Cover Girl’ sisters, and his feature on A-Lee’s new single, ‘Flashy’. Plus, he’s finally mastered the art of the high brow yet high quality ballad – ‘Stay’ is the kind of song that nobody, not even Eric himself, would have imagined a couple of years ago that he would ever make.
‘Beautiful’ and ‘Boomerang’ are our two personal favourites on here though. They’re two songs which manage to form a seamless compromise between the old Saade and the new Saade. Both mature r&b pop songs with an incredible production, and both containing a great big pop melody to shout about. They sort of stand out on their own as something a little bit different to everything else on the album. And if he were ever looking to focus his direction on a specific sound for his next album – we’d nudge (or rather push) him in this way. On the track listing of the album, they’re followed by the amazing ‘Marching’. What a triple threat. And then comes ‘Stay’. Beautiful, wonderful ‘Stay’.
Until now, Saade ballads have fallen into two catgories. Poptastic and brill (‘Someone New’, ‘Break Of Dawn’, and ‘Still Loving It’) and grown-up and bland (‘Miss Unknown’, ‘Without You I’m Nothing’, and ‘Forgive Me’). However, ‘Stay’ manages to put the latter three to shame by being far more mature than they could ever have been, while being so much more interesting and actually managing to hold a tune too. The production is dark and stark, and Eric’s vocal is honest and vulnerable. It’s a haunting song unlike any he’s ever made before. And that middle eight is epic.
That electrofunk trinity of ‘Cover Girl pt1’, ‘Cover Girl pt2’, and ‘Flashy’ is the sound of Eric Saade’s dance floors these days. A modern update on a classic disco flavour from the 80s. It’s a stylish sound, but not at the expense of any substance. Again, the production is intense. And he rises to it and matches it perfectly. We frowned at all that “swag” rubbish he used to tweet about a lot. But it turns out this is what he meant. And yeah, he’s got it.
‘Miss Unknown’ and the title track ‘Forgive Me’ stop the album from being a totally perfect record unfortunately. Had they been dropped, or even better – replaced by two of the more poptastic, ‘Marching’-esque demos he would have recorded for the album somewhere along the process – then it would have been a flawless effort with enough variation to please all of his fans and enough strength to shut the critics up. But those two aforementioned ballads are the dead weight on here. Not bad, just not very good either. We get that he’s a big Justin Timberlake fan, but they ain’t no ‘Mirrors’. And so rather than coming across as an inferior version of Timberlake like he does on these two songs, he should just concentrate on being the great popstar that is Eric Saade. Because if he takes a step down from that – which ‘Miss Unknown’ and ‘Forgive Me’ are – well there’s a queue of his contemporaries who would be more than happy to take his place.
Other than that though, it’s a fantastic album. Not what we expected. And not what we thought we wanted either. But it’s an accomplished record that showcases an extraordinary amount of progression in his sound, yet still serves as an enjoyable listen from start to finish, for someone who has been an Eric Saade fan from Day 1.
As far back in the past as Day 1 seems right now. But we’re not gutted about that at all, as it happens.
Listen out for previews of each of the new songs here on Scandipop over the next week. And on Friday, he premieres ‘Flashy’ – the new single with A-Lee.
The ‘Forgive Me’ album is released next week in Sweden. But if you live outside of Sweden, you can already pre-order it on CD from our online store.