The last time we heard from Girl Crush, the Swedish duo was exploring failed love using the well-known idiom of radio silence. “Baby Steps,” the band’s follow-up single, falls in line with “Radio Silence” in that regard: Here, lyricist Ottilia Kjulsten employs a commonly used phrase to represent a romantic pace too glacial for her liking. Musically, though, “Baby Steps” sees Girl Crush push its synth arrangements into less bombastic, more ethereal spaces without erasing the wide pop appeal lying at the duo’s heart.

Through synths that hover weightlessly like fog on a dark blue lake, Kjulsten listlessly but lovingly sings of an intense love whose recipient isn’t returning it strongly enough. “You give me feelings that I can’t deny,” she all but whispers over bandmate David Sugar’s tiny, precocious synthetic bubbles: “I don’t want to wait ‘til later.” During the song’s chorus, she uses the symbol of baby steps to demand more from her lover as the verses’ tranquility blooms into what sounds like an anthem buried under a blanket: “Let’s not baby step, honey/take it to the next level.”

The chorus of “Baby Steps” calls back to Girl Crush’s tiptoeing along the line between finely crafted pop music and abrasive, woefully misguided EDM production, but it does so from under layers of dawn-like, serene reverb. As Kjulsten introduces the track’s central image of baby steps, Sugar’s drums expand in scope from an occasional, distant shaker click-clack into elevating pairs of synthetic tom hits and handclaps. An interlude following the second chorus introduces pitch-shifted, ghastly intoning of the phrase “no more baby steps” and shimmering but faint flashes of programmed new wave guitar.

In the song’s final thirty seconds, “Baby Steps” enters an extended comedown. Only ambient patches of synth remain as the track’s pitch-shifted cooing disassembles itself. The song takes baby steps to its own ending: Girl Crush is never one to shy away from an idiom.

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