Music Review: Stranger by Julia Viktoria

Stranger is the debut EP from Swedish singer Julia Viktoria. After making her debut in 2016 with I’ll Do It For You she has since released an impressive catalogue of catchy electronic pop tracks. Stranger featuring a mixture of old and new tracks was her fifth release of 2020. 

The EP is based on many questions that Julia found herself asking in 2020. Do people really need to become strangers after spending a life together? Isn’t a good ending just as important as a wonderful first meeting? Should you become strangers with an ex even though you once shared something beautiful? Here’s to hoping that Julia found out what she wanted through the release of this EP. If not at least the EP sounds fantastic.  

Opening the EP is an upbeat track by name of Stranger which pulls you in with an infectious beat. Telling the story of beginning as strangers, becoming lovers and then back to strangers again, the track has a sunny disposition despite its sombre undertone. 

Driving synths and Julia’s dreamy and wistful vocals carefully cushion the sad lyrics and turn this track into one you will want to dance to. Julia’s tone is beautifully smooth. Gliding effortlessly over the backing music she is at no time in competition to be heard despite her gentle tone. 

Next up is I Don’t Wanna Be Forgotten. The track is a previous single for Julia and was released in March 2020. In this track, Julia expresses her fear of being left behind. 

The track opens with Julia’s vocal front and centre. The instrumentation comes and goes in short bursts and acts as punctuation for the lyrics. 

It is clear to see that this track has a very personal meaning to Julia and that the lyrics come from the deepest parts of herself. Again masked behind a rose-coloured track, you are given a song with an emotion that you can understand but not be put down by. 

Another previous release, the next track is Can’t Stop. The track was written when Julia realised that she was changing who she was because of the relationship she was in. Knowing she should leave, but couldn’t because she cared for the person, this track is one that I think a lot of people can relate to.

Again this track uses short bursts of sounds to accentuate the vocal line. Can’t Stop features a more retro sound and makes you feel reminiscent of 80s synth-pop. 

The penultimate track is Things We Never Had. The piano-lead track offers a more ballad-like production. 

Continuing to keeping the listener on their toes, the track does a 180 and comes to land back on those which you just can’t seem to get enough of.

The slower, downbeat introduction showed great versatility in Julia’s songwriting. It is something that I really enjoyed and would like to see more of.

Closing the EP is Främling which is the EP’s title track in Julia’s native tongue; Swedish. Basically, the song was so good that it features twice, but in very different ways. As it is in another language it means you can listen to it almost as a completely different song, a bonus track you may say. 

Stranger is a release that is honest and authentic. It is clear to see that Julia has poured her heart and soul into this release. Something that has definitely paid off.

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