‘Magic Still Exists’ in the disco church of Swedish idol Agnes

Jon Ali is In The Know’s music contributor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more.

Welcome to Magic Still Exists, the entryway to the disco church of Agnes, where it is encouraged that you “free your mind and free your body…” on the dance floor.

Now, this Swedish Idol winner may not be a household name in the States, but she certainly is no stranger to being a dance floor commander. Agnes has been providing audiences across the globe with countless dance-pop gems for over a decade now, from 2019’s “Tough Love” with the dearly departed Avicii to all the way back in 2008 with her most recognizable hit “Release Me,” a euphoric global smash that pushes forward the same message she’s still carrying with her today.

“My new album is very much about setting myself free from the old picture I have of myself or my imagination of what I can and can’t do. So ‘Release Me,’ in that sense, is about the same thing,” Agnes told In The Know in a statement. “Even though ‘Release Me’ was written about a love story, and my new music is more about my inner journey, the core and the meaning is about you setting yourself free. I still have a deep connection with it.”

“Hello, precious/ Show off your colors/ X-X-press yourself… / My brothers and my sisters/ Praise your existence/ X-X-press yourself…,” are the opening lyrics that kick off Magic Still Exists, the just-released fifth studio album from the Swedish vocal powerhouse. 

The tone is clear from the start of the dance-pop excellence that is the 11-track journey through Magic Still Exists, which we’re calling the Disco Church of Agnes.

The album, in many ways, feels like a spiritual experience from start to finish, and this is intentional with track titles like “Spiritual Awakening,” “The Soul Has No Gender,” “Love And Appreciation” and “Free Your Mind And Free Your Body.”

Agnes took a few years off from making music following the release of her 2012 album Veritas to take care of herself and refocus before returning to the studio to work on what would later become the bulk of Magic Still Exists.

The time off was necessary. She says, “I’ve had so much more time for writing and producing. I believe I have a wider perspective where I get my inspiration from and bring that into my music when it comes to the lyrics, production, but also the visuals.”

“It’s really been a journey for me to make this album, and sometimes it’s been hard and rough,” Agnes said. “It’s been times of not knowing where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. So during that time in my life, I decided I want to make music for myself, so I can grow as a human being and include people into my journey.”

The result is indeed an album that feels healing and empowering all at once, backed by sounds of pop, dance and most notably, disco. She drew inspiration from the likes of Giorgio Moroder, Sun Ra and Sylvester, creating her own captivating, modern take on the genre which Agnes calls “spiritual disco.” 

You can hear those influences heavily on the hypnotic singles “24 Hours,” “Fingers Crossed” and her latest single, “Here Comes The Night,” a glorious and stadium-worthy declaration of love. 

“I did this album to empower myself. It’s easy when you have a bad day to dig a hole and go with that feeling. You just want to jump into it and hide away from everything. So I wanted to make music that would lift me up from that hole,” Agnes told In The Know. “We are all outstanding originals, and if we can keep ourselves away from falling into those holes and instead use our time and energy to lift ourselves and others up, life is going to be so much more pleasurable and have so much more meaning. That’s what I hope people take away from listening and understand: I am beautiful, and let us just keep creating.”

The statements and themes of self-empowerment, self-love and liberation laced throughout the record are vividly clear, but one instance truly stands out and is amazing — and that’s in the interlude of “The Soul Has No Gender,” where you hear Agnes leading a choir-like chant. 

“The soul (the soul)/ The soul has no gender (no gender)/ Your spirit has no (has no) gender (no gender, no)…,” she declares. “It’s time to set yourself free (set yourself free, baby)/ Let go of everything that holds you back (everything)/ Everything (everything)…”

“For me, ‘The Soul Has No Gender’ is about trying to always remind myself … don’t put yourself in a certain box. Gender-wise, I often have a conflict inside myself,” Agnes revealed to In The Know. “For such a long time, we humans have been left with only two boxes to choose from, female or male, and that leads to frustration, and you can start questioning not only your environment but also yourself. I’m a woman, and I feel comfortable in my body, but I am not comfortable with the ‘box’ of being a woman. But then I always end up thinking, above all this, we are spirits, we are energies, and they don’t have a gender, so let us be and act from that.”

It’s the kind of timely pop messaging we all could use right now. “It might sound boring, but the whole journey of making this album has been so special,” Agnes continued. “From the intro of ‘Spiritual Awakening,’ when Salem, who I did the interlude with, played the string, I started to cry because everything felt so right, all the way to the last song, ‘Magic Still Exists,’ where I wanted to take away all of the production and make a piece where it’s only me, the piano and a lyric that sums up everything.”

In a time where so many things can feel heavy, Agnes’ Magic Still Exists takes on new meaning amid the constant uncertainty — it’s musical medicine tightly wrapped in chic and sophisticated disco-pop beats, encouraging you to keep pushing forward.

At the very least, we can count on Agnes to keep pushing forward, too. She says, “I think I will in one way or another always make spiritual disco, but the sound will change and take new forms.”

What are you waiting for? Dive into the magic now!

Magic Still Exists, the brand new album from Agnes, is available to stream everywhere here!

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