Review Summary: Let's go together, let's swim forever into the blue.
Ingrid Michaelson has always had the edge in class and consistency within the realm of pop music. She’s never blown up her humble approach or attempted to turn it into more than what it is, nor has she ever tried to become a sex symbol – and respect has resultantly followed her at every turn of her career. There’s actually a very telling line from this record in which Michaelson sings, “I don’t need a crown to make me a queen”, and it feels like a summation of her entire career as a musician. Early on – when she was just beginning to rise from the ashes of her humble Myspace beginnings – Ingrid bet on herself
. What followed was over a decade’s span of success – from the cutesy, by-the-numbers Girls and Boys
to her more streamlined offerings of late. Somehow, she has remained just as relevant as ever in an era where mega-artists
like Taylor Swift, Adele, and Ariana Grande have garnered every possible ounce of limelight available for public consumption. Amidst the ever-shifting climate of pop music, Michaelson’s even keel and steady production has turned her into something of a cult indie singer/songwriter icon, and a paradigm for aspiring songwriters who want to avoid the headache of mainstream pop and just make music. As her seventh full-length offering to date, It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense
is yet another example of why Ingrid Michaelson is an indie-pop queen in her own right.
It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense
doesn’t boast very many hooks, which is something of a rarity even for Ingrid. The closest thing we get to a sing-along chorus is ‘Hell No’, which feels out of place on the record to begin with. It’s unwise to approach this album with expectations of sugary sweet melodies – if that’s your end-game, you’re better off revisiting Everybody
or Human Again
. This is a record full of beautiful depth though, from the starry-eyed romanticism of ‘Another Life’ – “It’s in the galaxies and all the history books / I think we shared another life, don’t you"” – to imagery so vivid you can almost reach out and touch it, like the childhood memories fondly shared on ‘I Remember Her’: “There’s a smell that the heat makes / It reminds me of Christmas / And birthdays in December.” It’s mostly distant and forlorn, an atmosphere typified by the downright depressing ‘Drink You Gone’ – a track overwhelmed by pain and loneliness that peaks with a lyrical passage expressing just how tumultuous post-breakup life can be, “When I dream you’re there – I can’t even sleep
you gone.” Although there are occasional sojourns into peppier territory (such as the upbeat, off-kilter ‘Celebrate’), It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense
is largely just a matter of Ingrid sitting alone with her thoughts, a pen, and an acoustic guitar or piano. It’s what resulted in some of her most moving pieces as a young artist, and now more than a decade into her career, she has captured that lightning in a bottle once again. Nothing here will expand her resume or lodge itself in your brain for weeks, but that’s not the point. Like ‘Ghost’ or ‘Beautiful Unknown’, this record tugs at your heartstrings. It’s an album to sway along to in an empty ballroom, or to plug into your ears while you walk the city streets at night. It may not be very likely to top the charts because of its languid nature, but unearthing some of the lyrical gems here is actually far more rewarding. This is more than Ingrid simply reminding us that she’s still here; she’s reminding us of why we connected with her music to begin with.