Over five years since the release of their critically-adored debut album, Voyage – recently listed as one of the best pop debuts of all time by Q magazine – The Sound Of Arrows, return with new album Stay Free released on 27th October.
Already previewed online by the late-90s-pop-inspired single Beautiful Life and the heady tropical lullaby of In The Shade of Your Love , it’s an album that builds on the synth-lead elegance of their debut, but is more outward-looking, more personal, and more romantic. “We wanted to open the windows and let in some fresh air on this album,” explains Stefan. “It's less conceptual than Voyage and a little more about having two feet on the ground, maybe gazing up at the sky rather than floating up into space this time.”
This is an album of unmistakably wide-screen pop, a blueprint never more evident than on Don’t Worry, an exorcism of social crisis set a top the blissful hook of a string quartet. The album flits from the slow-burn Niki & The Dove-assisted The Shade Of Your Love to the galloping electro-pop of the aptly-titled The Greatest and the widescreen Massive Attack-esque Hold On, inspired by the daily struggles of London but sounding more like a soaring glint of hope.
This is an album that wrestles with the question of how to hold on when it feels like you almost can’t; how to find joy, hope and love in the face of sadness; how to celebrate life while you also have to get through it. The album's aims are bold and true: “It is all about those big, no-nonsense, upfront pop songs.”
Augmented by the lilting Lost In LA and the Annie-assisted cinematic trip-hop of Wicked Ways, the undulating title track Stay Free is a manifesto for our times, positing the idea that as you age, you don't have to follow the plans society lays out. Stay Free is an album that takes the very Swedish pop template of making sad songs sound happy and injects it with a genuine, undeniable sense of hope.
“Bandage every scar, silence all the noise and see the sky is full of stars,” Storm sings on Stay Free. “I believe in you, I believe in me, I believe there's so much life to see, and I don't know yet who I want to be, so I'll stay free”. Welcome back to the world of The Sound of Arrows.