By the time Molly Nilsson released History, she had already established a fledgling cult status built on homemade YouTube videos and home-burnt Cdrs. Writing from a distance, it’s clear that History is the first classic album in her canon and arguably a classic of the 21st Century underground music panorama. While the methodology on History hadn’t changed from Nilsson’s previous 3 albums – it was recorded solo at The Lighthouse, Nilsson’s home studio based on a Berlin crossroads – on this record the songwriting reached a new peak and the emotional scythe cut deeper. Here, Nilsson managed to combine a cosmic, outward looking perspective with an intimate knowledge of the human condition and its place in these turbulent times. In truth, no other songwriter has excavated the modern psyche so clearly and perfectly.
The tracklist to Nilsson’s fourth album reads as an early greatest hits for Molly Nilsson followers and also serves as the perfect entry point to a whole world the artist has been building for the last 10 years. In Real Life crystalises the millenial obsession with relationships built online, with a generation paying for the baby boomer’s excesses with their anxiety towards the harshness of every day life. It’s a call to arms for a generation who fell in love on Skype. On I Hope You Die, one of Molly Nilsson’s most iconic songs, the songwriter flips the song title into a tale of doomed romance, a relationship based on miscommunications and the thrill of the other. It’s also one of the most heartfelt songs full of pathos written by anyone, an ode to obsession. Doomed romance, life lived on the flipside of day and the role of the outsider in society are themes that crop up through-out History. On Bottles Of Tomorrow, the narrator is sweeping up, in love with the night and examining the remains a society
On City Of Atlantis, Nilsson veers from the plaintive balladry she had begun to make her name with, embracing trance-like synth and dance music details to create an unlikely anthem using the mythological city as a means to comment on the patriarchal rendering of history by power. With by now trademark panache, she turns complicated subject matter into a glorious song that transforms into an ecstatic pop moment. Hotel Home, another Nilsson classic, paints loneliness not as a debilitating anxiety, but as a powerful tool that propels the artist forward through her travels. It’s a song that hints at an endearing self-awareness also; the writer is never at home, living life on the road, content that “the world will find me when the time is ripe.”
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