Like an unhinged steel door left to swing like a pendulum, the potent decadence of “The Shelter of Thieves” can be powerful enough to break through even the strongest of emotional barriers. “The Shelter of Thieves” isn’t the only song on Ann Brita Nilsson’s new solo offering Eleven Something that utilizes a poetic grind to entrance anyone within earshot of its rattling elegance, but it certainly is one of the more mesmerizing. Eleven Something is chock full of a brand of unadulterated indie pop that you really can’t find anymore when scanning through the FM dial looking for new music, and it’s going a long way to establishing the singer’s status as a force to be reckoned with in her own right.
About three decades ago, indie pop was a lot more angular and abstract by design than it is today, and I think Eleven Something would have fit in better with the releases that era produced than it does in our present musical climate in 2023. I’m not trying to call this record a throwback to vintage alternative music, but part of the reason why I think it stands out as much as it does in today’s market is because of its unforgiving tone and at times volatile allure, something most of Nilsson’s peers have failed to provide us with in recent years. This EP isn’t self-indulgent or riddled with over-the-top grandeur; it’s just fiery pop that hasn’t been tampered with or polished up for mass consumption.
“Opening My Windows” is essentially proof that Ann Brita Nilsson can sing a complex song with as much passion as she does a throttling track, but it’s also an excellently produced and exquisitely fashioned piece of atmospheric pop that on its own would justify any audiophile’s interest in Eleven Something. What’s more, were “Opening My Windows” not included on this record I think the other tracks would seem a little too physical and cutting. This song acts as a great buffer between the surrealism of the more instrumentally-driven material, and could easily be a successful single if Nilsson decided to release it as such. I hope she experiments with this post-pop style of play more in the future; she wears it well here.
Eleven Something pushes the limits of emotive complexity to their very brink, and for how much it lacks formulaic structure it’s a rather fluid release that is short and sweet enough to provoke repeat listens throughout the day. Ann Brita Nilsson takes a powerful approach to songwriting in this record, but rather than coming off as an uneven rookie attempt at carving out her own legacy in the storied history of pop music, she couldn’t sound any more relaxed, confident, and in her element. This sound that she’s conceived is truly her own, and I think that with time, patience, and her continued dedication to solid craftsmanship it has the potential to make her just as successful in this chapter of her career as her work with other indie acts has thus far.