Equally mischievous and dream-poppy piece by solo Swede
ShitKid is back with another full-length LP, their second, in fact (excluding the original motion picture soundtrack). Owing to the title, it must be their most lucid and relevant one yet. They must eat their carrots and correctly see the capital E at the top of the pyramid on that poster in the ophthalmologist’s office, for ShitKid does not require glasses in 20/20 ShitKid. It’s also a solo project, as bassist Lina Molarin Ericsson went to the US on tour with Duo Limbo leaving Åsa Söderqvist lonesome, but with full reign and a wicked smile. This baby is equipped with eight songs and clocks in at a mere 26 minutes, yet don’t let its teeny size deter one, it’s got enough stamina and euphoria to leave listeners trembling for more.
The album opens with “885 (navy),” a plaintive poppy piece composed of this guitar arpeggio loop that morphs into a slow, grinding guitar progression under Söderqvist’s euphonious voice. Then it glides in another little guitar riff in “FARMBOY,” but it’s detuned and it warps and juxtaposes that soft voice of hers, so it all at once becomes discordant–actually, as equally concordant as it isn’t. “La la la la la/ my feelings for you are the same” she whimsically sings against the sodden crunch and tingle of her narcotized guitar.
Track three, “cool breeze,” picks up where the last left off and these gothic synth chords come in only to be sidelined by echoic wooing and scathing guitar as this common musical motif emerges. Her song design becomes predictable, it oscillates between unabashed, unhinged mayhem that’s also contained and innocent, like a blizzard in a snow globe; also the melodic, softer side of her that still clings to the remnants of the chaos that preceded, will again succeed, its transient calm.
Yet when it’s calm, it’s soporific. The whole thing holds up for about the first half until it then seems a little stale and middling in “waste of time,” in which there’s one constant sound that leads the song and it then becomes suffocated in the sandbag of multi-layered others. The next track, “dying to,” apologizes for this and serves as a rectification wherein the minimalism of it makes it holistically thrum. It may very well arguably be the best track–with a chunky, head-bob-inducing bassline and spritely whispers from her invisible enigma as it intermittently quiets and resumes. All the while there’s a puerile playfulness and a tinge of mischief in her voice as if she’s brandishing a lollipop just out of another little kiddie’s reach.
That same querulous, taunting voice extends into “FREAK” wherein she murmurs “if you get to know me, you’ll know that I’m a real freak.” It has a really catchy garage-rock-meets-bubblegum-pop riff that’s thrown off by her deadpan tone of voice that spews barely-intelligible lyrics, and that which also emanates a blasé attitude at how anyone might be receiving this, something she may laugh about later. The garage-rock aura really comes through here, as if she kind of went with her first try in every aspect of the making of it, resulting in a really anti-manufactured, nude sound.
Overall, 20/20 ShitKid is a solid piece, and it’s crisp without being commercial. It plays like a soundtrack to a bildungsroman movie following some disillusioned teen misfit that was created by some basement maven during the global lockdown. There’re tight synth boings and ripping pop guitar on nearly every track and Söderqvist’s indifference christens it as something defiant, yet accessible and not too audience-hostile.