Feel-good and retrospective, Léon’s third album Circles was released this past week on March 4. The Swedish singer’s junior album leaves us with a hint of nostalgia and a desire for transformative change. Léon, whose real name is Lotta Lindgren, utilized the sounds of contemporary synth for her album, in some cases going as far as sampling ‘80s synth for her dance tracks.
Léon was discovered on SoundCloud after her single “Tired of Talking” rose in streams and popularity. At the time, outside of her circle of friends in Stockholm, people around the world were slowly becoming exposed to Léon’s musical footprint. Soon enough, DJs and producers created remixes of the single, which further helped bring Léon to fame.
Her signature sound stems mainly from her tone of voice, which adds a layer of smokiness to her music. Léon’s thick voice presents an appealing sound that I would argue is comparable to other pop artists like Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga.
Like most songs in the pop genre, Circles follows basic chord progressions as the backdrop to heartfelt lyrics and, in this case, optimistic synth. Despite the generality of the progressions, Léon’s lyrics and unique tone invoke a feel-good feeling perfect for your daily playlists.
The opening track “Dancer” is both metamorphic and, like the title suggests, danceable. Not only does the song drive the transformative actions of the album as a whole, but it also implies a feeling of moving on or taking back control from a person. Here, Léon is acknowledging her excitement for the dancer in the song, but while this excitement may bring joy, it also gives rise to her anxiety.
The verses “I’ve been lost / Staring at the ceiling / Here it comes / Afraid I caught a feeling” and “I know / I’m somewhat scared of living / While others go / Blinded to the feeling” help create structure to the song. The verses describe her fears, while the chorus praises the joy she feels for her partner. Despite some of its gloomy lyrics, the upbeat, fast-paced rhythm of the song is what makes it danceable.
Similarly, the song “Soaked” paints a positive reflection on new beginnings. The main beat produces an explosive image of movement — the perfect montage song. The chorus, “When it’s pouring / I go out in the rain / And I’m waiting / For a way / For a change / And I just want to get soaked / And rinse it all off,” prompts you to let go of your bad thoughts and “rinse” it off. The themes of Circles differ from her first two albums mainly with a more vulnerable lens.
In an interview with Atwood Magazine, Léon talked about her thought process while writing for the album.
“I went through all these big ups and downs last year. I was very much struggling a lot with anxiety, like so many people. And I had never really put that into my music, but it’s always been a very big part of me,” she said. “There’s a lot of songs on here that I’m not sure I want people to hear. I’ve been so nervous, but now I’m so excited to share it.”
Léon certainly portrays this anxiety in some songs more than others. While her songwriting is more elevated in this album, songs like “Dancer,” “Wildest Dreams” and “Look Like That” cushion the sadness of the lyrics with upbeat sounds
In the title track “Circles,” she describes the fear she has of committing to a relationship, pointing to her own insecurities. Case in point, in the second verse of the song, she sings, “And I know you’re tired, honey, I’m tired too / Oh, how it hurts me, all the things I do to you / What if I could do it different? Be this immature / I’d never blame you if you walk right out that door.” Arguably the most vulnerable and raw song on the album, it’s no surprise that it’s also the title track.
At first, Léon hadn’t been planning to release Circles so soon after her sophomore album Apart in 2020. However, the inspiration for this new release naturally came together after a year of self-reflection and tough realizations. This spark of creative fervor is what makes music so beautiful to make and listen to. If you’re looking for a new album or artist to listen to, I’d highly recommend Léon’s discography.