El Perro del Mar could have kept making the same desolate, heartbreakingly crushed record over and over with no diminishing returns. Maybe the pristine arrangements and fragile chamber pop sound were starting to feel limiting to Sarah Assbring, though. Perhaps it was beginning to feel limiting and insular and she needed a change. To that end, when the time came to start working on a follow-up to her 2008 album, From the Valley to the Stars, Assbring picked Studio's Rasmus Hägg as a collaborator.
Death, taxes, and life's other inevitability: break-up records. Sad-eyed Swede Sarah Assbring already has one under her belt, if you count 2005 Scandinavian release Look! It's El Perro Del Mar! (later refashioned with a slightly different tracklisting in the UK and North America as the self-titled El Perro Del Mar). But that's the thing about break-ups and, by extension, break-up records: At the time each feels like a cataclysm to end all cataclysms, the definitive statement on cessation.
Sweden’s duchess of the doldrums contemplates our sour times El Perro Del Mar is the nom de triste of Swedish pop chanteuse Sarah Assbring, whose fourth LP is filled with an almost unbearably melancholic, lovelorn pop that wafts through chilly grey air. It also features a distinct modernization of Assbring’s sound—but when you listen to the album’s seven tracks (plus three club-minded remixes) and begin sifting through the musical lineage (Sundays, C86, Bettie Serveert) comprising low-key odes to heartache such as “Change of Heart” and “L is For Love,” it becomes apparent that she’s still a pretty far cry from fellow Swede/dancing queen Robyn. At heart, the Sea Dog remains a sad-eyed lady of the lowlands.