It’s not often that we think of reassurance as a force to be reckoned with. Let Go, the third
album from the Malmö, Sweden-based quartet We Float, might just change that.
But after two albums of wearing their progressive jazz inclinations on their sleeve, We Float have
arrived at their own brand of pop music — weighty yet somehow bright and irresistibly tuneful, Let
Go never ceases to be inviting, even in its most earnest moments. Looking back, bassist/bandleader
and principal songwriter Anne Marte Eggen was bound to strike precisely this kind of balance on her
own terms. Growing up on a farm in rural Norway with three older siblings and mother who taught
music to children, the home of Eggen’s childhood was alive with the clamor of musical instruments
and pop/rock fare like Queen and The Beatles.
The first album she sought-out on her own, though, was Björk’s Debut, which she listened to
obsessivelyw. She dove into PJ Harvey’s catalog not long after that. (The name We Float, in fact, is
derived from a PJ Harvey lyric.) When you begin your individual musical journey with visionary
artists who play by their own rules, the idea of being able to bridge the gap between challenging and
accessible doesn’t seem out of reach. Around that same time, Eggen inherited a bass guitar from one
of her older siblings.
“I liked how I could jump right in and play along with songs I liked,” Eggen recalls, “in a way that
wasn’t immediately within reach on piano or cello. To be honest, I thought it looked cool too. But it
also felt right — the way the bass lends itself to both rhythm and melody, and the way you build songs from the bottom up along with the drums, that’s still something that guides my writing and challenges
me.” No surprise, then, that on Let Go we can hear Eggen employing the bass as a support instrument,
a textural element, and a vehicle for her proggy/fusion chops all at once. Like the band as a whole,
though, what Eggen displays more than ever these days is her singular knack for discretion.
As bass and drums slowly circle like a cone of light into an eerie mist of synthesizer trails on the
album-opening title track, We Float establish the potent blend of solemnity and consolation that
defines the album. Likewise, songs like “Golden Sun,” “Come Back,” “A Place For Us” and album
closer “It Will Be Okay” lend new meaning to the term “emotional support” as they hold you in their
Other than the fusion-style breakdown in the bridge of “Come Back,” or the meshwork of King
Crimson-esque guitar lines on “Restlessness,” you would never know that all the members of We
Float studied jazz at the Malmö Academy of Music (where the band formed). Drawn to the majestic
soar of Linda Bergström’s vocals, keyboardist Fanny Gunnarsson’s ear for atmosphere, as well as
drummer Filip Bensefelt’s uncanny ability to drive the music like a rock drummer but with a jazz
drummer’s finesse, Eggen knew that she had assembled a group that could stretch not only the bounds
of both pop and jazz, but also stretch past its own limitations.
With Let Go, We Float (along with avant-twang guitarist extraordinaire Samuel Hällkvist) move
beyond an instrumentalist mentality and achieve the kind of high-minded but highly relatable art that
the likes of Kate Bush, Simple Minds, Tears For Fears and Peter Gabriel conquered the airwaves with
during the 1980s. If pop music was due for a modern makeover, We Float pull it off so well you might
not immediately recognize what a feat of songcraft Let Go truly is. That’s perfectly fine with Eggen, though. “We’ve all studied music a great deal,” she admits. “It’s not that we don’t love challenging ourselves — we still give ourselves plenty of room to stretch in the live show — but there’s a certain joy that comes from finding a balance. You can listen to this album without your music brain turned on, or you try to find the little tricks we kept up our sleeves. They’re still there, you just have to pay attention!”
“I’m also,” she continues, “pretty self-conscious about my lyrics, so if the overall mood comes across
more than anything — if you can feel something without having to think about the mechanics of the
words or the sounds underneath — then we’ve accomplished what I was hoping for.”
Written by Saby Reyes-Kulkarni