Lina Tullgren - Free Cell - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Lina Tullgren - Free Cell

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2019-08-23
Lina Tullgren - Free Cell
Lina Tullgren - Free Cell

Lina Tullgren’s latest album, Free Cell, is an intimate portrait of an artist coming into their own. The self-produced, twelve-song collection builds upon the indie-rock tendencies of Tullgren’s debut (2017’s Won), adding a lush, orchestrated element to the singer/songwriter’s traditional guitar/bass/drums formula.

The album-opening title track finds Tullgren in a confessional mood as she softly sings over a bed of sparse chords. The song is a gentle moment that serves as the perfect introduction for much of what follows. One of the album's lone upbeat moments, “110717” begins amid a wash of feedback before settling into a mid-tempo indie groove, not unlike mid-’90s Sonic Youth. 

Meanwhile, “Golden Babyland” is a breezy, pop-infused gem and “Bad At Parties” is one of the album’s most effective ballads. From there, the album careens further into more understated territory, tending to ebb and flow between somber indie-rock (“Wow, Lucky,” “Saiddone”) and minimalistic confessionals (“Soft Glove 1 & 2,” “Piano”). 

While Free Cell spends much of the second half wallowing in itself, Tullgren mines the emotional space to great effect. Not unlike Julia Jacklin’s most recent release (the 2019 gem, Crushing), Free Cell is as much a personal catharsis as it is an artistic statement, and in that regard, the album both warrants and rewards repeated listens.

The songs on Free Cell were apparently inspired by the card game of the same name, which according to Tullgren, “can always be won...the album, stems from that same quest for order; writing the songs became a way of sorting through emotions before moving on. Every game of solitaire is played alone — and at the end, there’s always a moment when everything snaps into place.“

No signs of a sophomore slump here, Free Cell is yet another collection of confidently written gems from one of indie-rock’s most compelling voices.

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