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The Travels represents a signpost in the continuing journey that is the songs of Berlin-based artist Molly Nilsson. Starting out by hand-dubbing CDRs and forging a singular path in the global pop underground, Nilsson’s art has grown to the extent where hers is a precise songwriting devoid of unnecessary flourish. Her songs are perfect silhouettes of feelings everyone shares but that few can articulate with such heart-rending, icy pathos. Journeys offer change—the possibility of renewal—and on Tthis album, Nilsson’s resonant voice is found curling around a new sense of optimism and wide-eyed discovery that was only alluded to in her previous work. Songs like “Dear Life” might be spiked with a barbed sense of the dejected, but the presiding feeling is one of optimism, of being in love with life despite a shield of cynicism. “Dirty Fingers” brings a melancholy recognizable from previous work but with an incessant beat and ecstatic underpinning. In case the listener missed it, “The Power Ballad” brings an endearing sincerity to proceedings that also offers a tantalizing question: can you be skeptical about love but still be bewitched? On this fifth long-player, Nilsson’s perspective is challenged and manipulated by changes in environment and psychological space: like any other traveller the protagonist brings their own set of values and emotional states to new places, coloring them with a wash of subjectivity. Based loosely on Marco Polo’s “Travels” and reading like a map of the protagonist’s geographical and inner journey, this album reveals new places and new emotions that are never the same to the beholder.