Sweden’s (Ellinor Sterner) Bonander says, “Sometimes I feel sad about being a grown up. To have lost that irrational but warm feeling that you are safe no matter what. Instead I clutch my keys in my hand on the way home”.
The song relates to growing up and an unwillingness to see the world as it is. As a kid she would fall asleep in the backseat of the family’s car, with that comforting feeling. Backseats of cars are metaphors for all sorts of things. Little Simz had “spent all her life” in hers while Arcade Fire’s mournful. ‘In the backseat’ had Regine Chassagne liking the peace there, where she could watch the countryside and fall asleep. But it was also where her mother died in a car crash, Chassagne unable to reach the hospital in time to say goodbye. Nothing quite so dramatic here I’m glad to say.
I find it a little hard to classify her precisely. She seems to be a darling of the femme metal set and there is something of the symphonic metal about her, mixed with a healthy slice of cinema film score and an unhealthy one of Goth. ‘Backseat’ isn’t a million miles removed from what Tarja Turunen is doing just now, with shades of Susanne Sundfør on ‘Memorial’. It’s a powerful, orchestrated work that, following a repeated four note intro that could be the handshake to the friendly aliens in ‘Close Encounters 2’ builds to a thrilling electronic crescendo that will give you goose bumps.
Meanwhile the vocal during that crescendo is so Kate Bush that I was expecting Heathcliff to turn up in the lyrics.
She isn’t afraid to mix up her lyrical content. On the previous single, ‘Then I’m Dead’ she sang about the fear of not being able to satisfy society’s demands. Prior to that, one song concerned renowned American sharpshooter Annie (‘Get your gun’) Oakley, while another, ‘Martha’, references the main character of ‘Lay down your arms’, which was written by the only woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. If you’re starting to perceive a feminist bent here, you’re right, most of her songs are written from that angle and in 'Quit Everything and Become a Princess’ she questioned gender conformity.
As a fan of Anna Calvi, the ultimate observer and musical raconteur of that particular subject that’s enough to convince me. Ms Bonander went straight on my list of ‘must sees’ whenever that opportunity arises again.
She is currently working on new album ‘Things We Don’t Talk About’, which tells the stories of women both from history and her personal life whose contributions have previously been overlooked.
‘Backseat’ has been available to stream since November 13th.