Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
Exploring more electronic sounds and upbeat melodies on her latest album, Remind Me Tomorrow, Sharon Van Etten sounds more hopeful than ever
For some, years can fly by and you’d barely even notice; for others, a lot can happen in a few years. The latter is particularly true of Sharon Van Etten, whose four-year break from music turned into a journey of self-discovery. Since the release of her fourth album, Are We There, in 2014, Van Etten got a degree in psychology, took on her first acting jobs (starring in Netflix series The OA and appearing in the Twin Peaks revival), fell in love, and had her first child. It makes sense, then, that for her next album she would also try something new.
Veering away from the guitar-driven sad indie rock anthems that permeated her previous records, on Remind Me Tomorrow Van Etten experiments with more electronic sounds, and instead of writing songs that focus on themes of heartbreak and despair, the songs here are more upbeat and reflective, detailing her newfound contentment. Van Etten has a knack for crafting mood, and her lyrical scene-setting often comes in the simplest but most effective form. 'We held hands / We held hands as we parted / We knocked knees / We knocked knees as it started,' she sings on album opener I Told You Everything, recounting the early stages of falling in love and sounding much more hopeful than she has before.
No One’s Easy to Love is almost Beach House-esque in the dreaminess of its synths, and marks the beginning of the album’s explorations into different sounds early on. The album’s closing trio, however, best encapsulates this very new-sounding Sharon Van Etten; travelling through the scuzzy, pulsing conclusion of You Shadow, to the psychedelic, reverb-heavy chorus of Hands and back to the dreamy soundscapes briefly explored earlier on Stay. There’s a running theme throughout of looking back on old memories and an old self, accompanied by this idea of putting the past behind you and moving forward. Seventeen plays out like a letter of wisdom to Van Etten’s teenage self ('I see you’re so uncomfortably alone / I wish I could show you how much you have grown'), while lead single Comeback Kid is a real shedding of old skin moment ('Don’t look back / Watch me run away').
Many of Sharon Van Etten’s fans may be disappointed by the lack of sadness and darkness on Remind Me Tomorrow, and while there are still elements of both in the album’s undertones, there’s more of a hopefulness and sense of promise that suits her just as well.
Listen to: Seventeen, You Shadow