We have a winner.
Edward Okulicz: Every aspect of “Accelerate” is realized. Like the rest of its parent album, Sundfør goes for broke, taking the metaphorical life-and-death of relationships that permeates Ten Love Songs and makes it sound completely literal here. The rhythm is driving and charging, giving it more energy than “a vaguely goth ABBA” would suggest. Fittingly, the chorus is explosive and a bit dangerous and yet poppy, the verses full of menace and intrigue, and the organ in the middle was such a shock and a delight the first time I heard it that I’m surprised it still thrills me months later.
Maxwell Cavaseno: Corrosive and lush at the same time, the din pierced by the occasional teasing of that NBC Melody and that pompous organ break. Meanwhile, Susanne is all kinds of drunk off her own droll jeering for a grizzly end. She moans in a way that sounds pleased and maudlin, appearing to have no problem making such an inhospitable snowstorm of creepy effects reminiscent of fringe goth obscurities from far-off continental towns. You’d be a fool not to relish in the spectacle.
Megan Harrington: Sundfør channels a subterranean space, darkness in the foreground, the background a blur. Even as her synths read perilously cold, there’s the gnarl and thrash of grunge seeping through the porous edges of her world. This human clumsiness lends “Accelerate” a vibrancy not usually found in the monotone world of icy electronics.
Iain Mew: The first time I heard the hurricane organ riff that blows through the middle, I thought of Muse. Indeed the towering audacity of “Accelerate” is on the level of the most amazing Muse songs, but Susanne Sundfør replaces their hysterical conspiracy theories with a chilling mix of violent action and calm normality. “Many people will get hurt.” she notes. Whatever. “Finish your dessert”. And she twists the knife in the chorus with numbness as proof of complete victory, still utterly controlled but almost demonic on the demand “let’s have fun.” That’s in the three minutes of re-staging the highwire intensity of “Delirious” on a vaster scale before she even gets to the organ, mind. That’s just the set up to revving away from the scene in a burst of gothic splendour, before turning around to crash the whole lot back through where she started from. I haven’t heard anything else as expansive and exhausting and exhilarating all year.
Thomas Inskeep: If the Knife were more accessible, and I use that word both deliberately and loosely, they might sound like “Accelerate.” It also brings to mind the way Berlin might’ve sounded if Giorgio Moroder had, instead of waiting until “Take My Breath Away,” produced them a bit earlier in their career. Menacing in the best way.
Scott Mildenhall: Getting off a train at night and walking through an empty town with this in earphones is such an enlivening, immersive experience that it could have been written for it. Never mind why, though, who even does write, create and perform something so unflinchingly bold? Susanne Sundfør is here to be imperious and terrifying, and she is just because she is. Life and fear and love and death are all presided over with enrapturing conviction, and it’s only with the dizzyingly massive final descent that the height from which she does so becomes apparent.
Josh Winters: There are moments while listening to Ten Love Songs when I feel some sort of phantom knife appearing in my hand. I unconsciously rub the tips of my fingers against my palms to acknowledge this feeling, and it sends a kind of sensation up my arms that feels as visceral as it feels blunt. I’ve noticed this happening during “Accelerate” in certain spots: when a synth powered by 100 kilovolts comes surging through, when she methodically instructs to “start the car” with a deliciously evil grin as to expose a mouthful of blood, when a church organ the size of Heaven itself sends you straight to Hell to meet your maker. In the motion picture of Susanne Sundfør’s Euro-arthouse femme fatale rock opera, I am merely an extra, a bystander, perhaps even a subsequent victim, but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to get my hands dirty while still breathing.
Alfred Soto: Too easy, I suppose, to admire a single so determined to pummel listeners with details: it sports a Bach quote, for chrissakes. But this Norwegian singer-songwriter rumbles over the accursed soundscape, swathing her voice with enough echo to lend the doorbell hook a sinister cast. Should’ve been on The Hunger Games soundtrack. More importantly, it’s a rich and three-dimensional rendering of lust.
Will Adams: Sundfør, last year tasked with providing the (relatively) brighter moments of Röyksopp’s unforgiving final album, is relentless on Ten Love Songs and especially here. Not only does “Accelerate” refuse to let up, it grips your wrist and holds you steady during its torrent. Every snare a thunderclap, every synth burst a swarm of crows, the organ solo a swiriling vortex, the apocalypse of “Accelerate” demands attention in a way that not even the top pop songs of the year have done.
Katherine St Asaph: Suzanne Rivecca, on Mary Gaitskill: “It’s not ‘liberation’ or ’empowerment’ or snide one-upmanship Gaitskill’s women are seeking through sexual expression; it’s something far less inanely recreational and celebratory, and far more complicated. It’s a kind of annihilation that burns away falsity and reveals a secret, tender kernel of essential selfhood; a kind of absolution of the lingering guilt from past, nonsexual humiliations; and, not least of all, a kind of inoculation against future hurt.” No other prose, perhaps besides Dickinson’s quote about having the top of one’s head physically removed, has better stated what I look for from art, and music in particular. 10 Love Songs returns more often than one would think to this idea, of having fun, but it always sounds like a euphemism and a threat; the knives are always an inch away. Sundfør is among our best pop producers, delivering the most world-crushing hook since “Destroy Everything You Touch” and among the year’s best lyrics: “this must be paradise, because I am numb.” She’s also our most maximalist auteur — that co-producer Jonathan Bates came from an act aptly called Mellowdrone must be a cosmic joke — and while “Accelerate” never accelerates (that would be too easy), nor does it stop building. As for the organ interlude, I can only assume it is there because Sundfør wishes to be personally responsible for my actual death. Things have sounded far worse.