There was once a time where second albums were grossly relied upon just to tear down an artist for not maintaining a similar oomph to their debut, with the phrase coined ‘the difficult second album’. Upon reflection, it’s hard to believe the phrase ever existed, with the likes of James Blake and Wolf Alice both winning the Mercury Prize for their second albums in 2013 and 2018. This year it’s Norwegian pop-powerhouse Sigrid’s turn, wearing vulnerability like a coat of honour in her deliciously explorative sophomore.

The first offering from How To Let Go came in the form of “Mirror” way back in the spring of 2021. An anthem that was cleverly calculative, taking on the shape of a modern-day dance track that’s nearly impossible not to sing along to, it encourages even the most self-deprecating of people to scream and shout “I love who I see looking at me in the mirror,” and it’s not just a one off. Sigrid’s extraordinary empathetic touch on her lyrics continues into the completely unpredictable “Bad Life”, featuring rock giants Bring Me The Horizon – the bittersweet rock ballad is a cave of emotion that reconciles anyone battling with mental health destruction, as Sigrid and Olly Sykes harmonise effortlessly “So I wrote this song to say things won’t always be this way, it’s just a bad day, not a bad life”.

Whilst her debut Sucker Punch was rich with her own authentic twist on pop, How To Let Go is a testament to Sigrid’s musical growth. Her third single “It Gets Dark” is a cosmic wonderland that accepts the bad times so that the good moments can shine brighter. Encompassing a thundering bassline and a mammoth guitar solo, Sigrid explains “I didn't know what the second album was, what the second era was going to sound like, and then in LA we started on this song, and I was like 'OK, now we know'.”

With her explorative new sound shining through the record, glimpses of her music heroes present themself in a way that seems familiar but not at all obvious. The hypnotic “Dancer” builds itself around 70s-esque psychedelia, standing out with buzzy climatic drumbeats that’s injected with sporadic glittery synth tints. Continuing to turn her head back to the pre-00’s, the red-eyed “A Driver Saved My Life” is nothing like Sigrid has ever done before. Putting a modern twist on 80s/90s dance floor heydays, bendy synths are in full force to emulate the wonky feeling of coming home from a night out, as Sigrid’s lulling echoes sing “I think a driver might’ve saved my night”.

A concept album in its own right, How To Let Go does what it says on the tin as the Norwegian singer-songwriter expands on how she’s blossomed through life across the 12 tracks. An ode to carpe diem, the breezy “Risk Of Getting Hurt” is glistening with the idea of grabbing life when you can, even if there’s a risk involved. Whilst the empowering and synth tinged “Burning Bridges” is delightfully transparent about finally letting go of an ex you’re trying to make amends with, singing “tried to wave a white flag but you set it on fire”.

Sigrid was once characterised as the Norwegian girl who wore a plain white t-shirt, denim jeans and danced like no one was watching. Erupting out of the soil quicker than daffodils in spring, Sigrid’s growth is nothing short of remarkable on How To Let Go.