Poster Girl still shows a certain progression, but it is far from bringing what the best albums of the same type "Dance-Pop" have been able to do in recent years. Apart from Love Me Land, this album revolving around feelings is neither poignant, nor dreamy, nor fearsome, it is only a pop album sometimes pleasant but too often generic.
Having experienced a journey similar to Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez since her early childhood, but absolutely not destructive because by chance she was rejected by Disney, the Swedish Zara Larsson has built herself almost on her own by gaining fame and success through her prowess as a pop singer. She dreamed of being an icon and she succeeded. Her incredible career path is of course totally bluffing since she brought back at only 10 years old a very nationally recognized competition. Influenced by great voices like Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, Rihanna or Lady Gaga. Zara Larsson first had to become a big star in Scandinavia by developing a Pop/R&B formula with a very accessible Electro-Pop and Dance Pop aesthetic, releasing her first album 1 and a handful of hit singles. However, it is with Lush Life, released in 2015, that she will finally know an international success. Besides the success, Lush Life remains to this day her best song in my opinion. After 2 years of media exposure, her second album So Good has established itself as a blockbuster album of a completely different scope, although her music adapted to current trends is still a particularly pleasant but generic pop album. Gaining in maturity and without having changed her style, Zara Larsson came back in great shape with Love Me Land in 2020. While the global pandemic period has given many artists and listeners the idea to seek escape with music that is reminiscent of the dancefloor, Zara Larsson seems to be in her element. So the first hasty conclusion we come to is that this third album would finally be a kind of "artistic consecration" album. One can imagine that one could expect to be pleasantly surprised with songs like Love Me Land, but the reality is half true.
Contrary to a part of the listeners who are absolutely allergic to pop music, which for them necessarily represents something superfluous, I have no doubt that making an excellent pop album is achievable. Just last year, Dua Lipa or The Weeknd have readapted a retro formula from the 70s and 80s into a delicious and fun album. So why mention it? It's always an exercise to do a review on a very popular album of this style, since you have on your left shoulder a voice that screams that Pop is something unbeatable, while on the other shoulder there are things that are radically opposite to that. In this infernal din that boils in my head, I will say that the 2 elements of a successful dance-pop album are to ensure total fun while avoiding that it sounds generic. Especially since with this very sad period that we are going through, it is necessary that it is powerful enough to make us escape and thus dream of being under the spolights. For Poster Girl, the answer is that if we had to compare it to So Good, there is something better, but it's not enough. Let's say first of all that I was expecting, despite a few unconvincing singles releases, that when the album title and cover were announced, Zara Larsson would deliver both a total escape as well as a part of more intimate themes where we could learn other things, especially when almost everyone is stuck at home most of the time. However, after having eaten all last year of the " disco/dance-pop " albums, the wait was even less indulgent. It took 4 years for Zara Larsson to make this album, even though her busy schedule and the slowing down of the pandemic must have had an impact, Poster Girl sounds like an album a year behind schedule. In my opinion, and let's face it, it's not just that there's nothing more than the albums of this type released last year, it's that Poster Girl is even too limited to compete with them because it's neither dreamy nor ambitious.
The main theme of Poster Girl is thus essentially articulated on feelings, whether it be love or personal well-being, but these themes remain quite "superfluous" most of the time. The 12 songs that make up the album are actually a collection of Dance-Pop songs linked by the theme of feeling, but there is nothing conceptual about it. It is therefore important in this case to make each song a reason to appreciate them as a unit, but the lack of ambition of each song is a hindrance. It's simple, the album logically begins with Love Me Land, a sign that this song is both a real success and then afterwards it alternates between good and very average. Let's say that apart from Love Me Land, I would have liked at least one or two attempts at no radio songs. No, Poster Girl could be played entirely on the radio. Let's do a little debriefing. There are 3 half-ballads Talk About Love/I Need Love/Stick With You that are both nice and on the contrary particularly harmless. I wouldn't know where the problem really lies, I don't know if it's the refrains that hum or some kind of chemistry that doesn't take. Then we can talk about singles like Wow/Ruin My Life or the recent Look What You're Done which finally remain superior to the remnants of album songs. In fact if you take the 5 singles, you've already explored all the varieties of the album and it's almost not necessary to listen to the rest. Of course, there is the "funny" FFF, but after 3 listenings, I couldn't stand it anymore. I would like to make it clear that I don't expect experiments and innovations from Zara Larsson, but it sounds too often generic or smooth to allow me to escape further. Yet it was produced by a handful of world famous and experienced producers in the pop sphere, but when I point the finger at ambition, it is sure that we are not on the same level of expectation of artistic ambition but everything is relative, I listen not to a successful Dua Lipa as I listen to the Nick Cave. Unfortunately for me Poster Girl is aimed at a particular audience, instead of trying to conquer more capricious listeners. In short, this album is not bad in itself, it's just too predictable. At least Zara Larsson manages to keep her beautiful voice. After all, she's only 23 years old and this is only her third album, so hopefully with maturity and experience she'll be able to pass this famous milestone. It is necessary to admit it that we already feel the improvement between So Good and Poster Girl.