Unrequited love sucks.
The all-encompassing yearning. The complete absence of reciprocation. The empty allure of false hope at the smallest nothings.
And on the other end, that of the beloved, there’s typically either complete obliviousness or calculated rejection.
But on occasion we encounter the Carolines of the world. The way they handle this one-sided affection drove Boy In Space (Robin Lundbäck) to create his latest single, “Caroline.”
“Caroline is that girl that you’re crushing on but is completely out of your league and untouchable,” Lundbäck said. “We all knew a Caroline growing up.”
The Swedish singer-songwriter creates invariably catchy sad-boy tragi-love songs. Previous singles like “7UP and “Cold” are a bit slower but with the same driving tenor vocals that define Lundbäck’s sound and style. However, “Caroline” hints at the promise of a new direction for Boy In Space in 2020.
My biggest takeaway from “Caroline” is the immediate exhaustion and even exasperation in the vocals. They provide a marked distinction from other Boy In Space songs. The lyrics are in the same vein as other singles, lamenting the way things are versus how Lundbäck wishes they would be. But the opening lines convey an immediate difference and growth that go well beyond wallowing.
“Caroline/ Caroline / on my mind / stuck for life,” is delivered in an almost machine-gun staccato, the first syllable of each phrase an auditory slap. It’s almost grating, but checks in just short at grabbing. His voice begins and increases in trailing off after each first syllable, hinting at resignation with the hopelessness of his situation. The promise of an imminent, catalytic moment is understood. The song ultimately functions not as a lament, but rather catharsis.
Sure, there are still similar beats from previous Boy In Space songs and unrequited or doomed love in general. But if you look at Lundbäck’s work in chronological totality, this feels like the climax of one chapter and transition to another.
All the failed encounters with other women from previous Boy In Space songs have led to this moment. “Caroline” is the one finally forcing Lundbäck to ask himself, “I can understand you / I’m not your guy / who am I?” (emphasis mine). With two more promised singles for spring, I hope Boy In Space focuses on the journey towards and answer to that question.