Jonas Schwartz impressed in 2012 with his debut album Six. The light, carefree vibe was reminiscent of The Smiths, with catchy guitar riffs and dreamy vocals that seemed transported from an era when people still wore flowers in their hair. It invoked memories of summer and long nights around the fire and falling in love for the first time. Schwartz’s latest single What If I Leave takes the Gothenburg native in a new, more mature direction and is a stunning addition to his 2014 album, Expedition.
If tracks like Excited and Tomorrow Belongs To Me were the soundtrack to fall in love to, What If I Leave is the heartache that often follows. The single opens with a steady build that wouldn’t be out of place on a Temper Trap album. Schwartz’s brilliant vocal performance however stamps it with what will quickly become his signature sound. There is an easiness to this song this is just so cool, while the lyrics tackle the subject matter of head versus heart. Schwartz writes like he couldn’t care less, while the music summons that churned up feeling inside when you couldn’t care more. The additional vocals by Siri Hammenberg are subtle and gorgeous, like a memory you can’t quite put your finger on. Schwartz adds an unexpected layer to What If I Leave with the crescendo peaking in a synthesised bridge. It neither fits or feels out of place, but is something new fans of Six may have some difficulty connecting with.
It all adds to the struggle of the song. There is an uncomfortable urgency to the beat that contradicts the calmness of the vocals in the best way. There is a perfect balance between the desperation in the music and the all too blasé lyrics, simultaneously begging and daring someone to care. The echo of the lyrics So what, what if I leave / This is just a game for you is beautiful and haunting and absolutely nails the sadness of giving up.
What If I Leave is an interesting and truly lovely dream-pop composition that highlights Schwartz’s unmistakable voice. It is nostalgic and sad and just so damn easy to listen to. So get ready to feel equally sorry for yourself and excited for the album. Sit by that fire and wear flowers in your hair but pour yourself a single-malt because if this is a taste of what’s to come you’re going to need it.