“A Beautiful Mess”: Mary Anne’s Polar Rig Dive into the Unapologetic Fever Dream of ‘Makes You Wonder’

Mary Anne's Polar Rig © Ebba Ågren
Mary Anne's Polar Rig © Ebba Ågren
Malmö, Sweden indie rockers Mary Anne’s Polar Rig are “a beautiful mess” on their irresistible fever dream of a sophomore album ‘Makes You Wonder,’ a visceral and unapologetic record of reverie and reckoning.
Stream: “Summer Girl” – Mary Anne’s Polar Rig




I don’t want people to understand exactly what the album is about, because neither do I – but I want them to wonder!

First, they made you happy; next, they’ll make you wonder: Swedish indie rockers Mary Anne’s Polar Rig are as unapologetic as they are unforgiving in their stunning sophomore album, delivering a dynamic collection of provocative and piercing songs that dive deep and hit hard – leaving us breathless, shaken, and scarred. A visceral record of reverie and reckoning, Makes You Wonder is an intense, irresistible fever dream. It’s our raw humanity turned inside out: A no-holds-barred, brutally honest reaction to (and reflection on) the here and now. As vocalist and guitarist Malin Hofvander sings at one point, “Crack me wide open: What you find is what you get.” The beautiful, the ugly, and everything in-between coalesce on an album that not only demands our undivided attention, but also insists on repeat listens if we ever hope to comprehend its intimate, sprawling, and singular world.

Makes You Wonder - Mary Anne's Polar Rig
Makes You Wonder – Mary Anne’s Polar Rig
crack me wide open
what you find is what you get
and i said hate me, but you can’t
hate me more than i already hated myself
and that makes me wonder
what else i could have done
yeah that makes me wonder
who else i could have been
instead of this
all the times i stood in my own way
yeah all the times i was stuck in my head and
all the times i stood in my own way
yeah all this time i was stuck
and it makes me wonder
it makes me wonder…

Released March 24, 2023 via Rama Lama Records, Makes You Wonder is the triumphant and beautifully turbulent second album from Malmö, Sweden’s Mary Anne’s Polar Rig. The duo of Malin Hofvander and Harald Ingvarsson, Mary Anne’s Polar Rig (or MAPR for short) inhabit an exhilarating space within the greater indie rock realm, with an art rock-meets-fuzz pop sound that is at once soul-stirring and absolutely searing. They like to describe it as “rough-and-tumble rock and roll that can handle anything the world has to throw at it,” and the shoe fits. The follow-up to 2021’s debut album Makes You Happy (which was made back when the band were a four-piece), Makes You Wonder sees MAPR thriving in a space of intimate upheaval.

Mary Anne's Polar Rig © Ebba Ågren
Mary Anne’s Polar Rig © Ebba Ågren



In some ways, this is a revival; in some ways, it’s a rebirth; and in other ways, it’s a full-on homecoming.

“In 2020 we decided to part ways with our old band members Philip Lindskog (drums) and Jesper Olsson (bass), and with doing so it set a spark in me and Harald to try and revive this band,” MAPR’s Malin Hofvander tells Atwood Magazine. “Make something new and grand with it. The spring of 2021 was special for us since we moved in together and hung out all. the. time. It was also still COVID lockdown at this point, so I wrote songs like crazy and we recorded demos together in our bedrooms and rehearsal space. We also watched many music documentaries and dreamed about “the old days” when labels would send away young and unheard of bands to a studio on a farm for weeks or months because they believed that they could make something cool happen if given the time and space to create (ex. The Stone Roses, Slowdive etc). None of us had ever experienced being in a recording studio without being stressed about time, and we started thinking about creating that opportunity for ourselves. So we spent all of our vacation money on renting our favorite local hub, Studio Möllan, for 10 days. The owner, Emil Isaksson, is a friend of ours and he left the keys with us and went out of town. So we had 24-hour access and only lived a few blocks away. We spent about 17 hours a day in the studio, I think. It felt like a summer camp and we had so much fun.”

Laughing, she describes their vision for this album as “strong and wrong, perhaps.

“We had this mantra when we entered the studio, it started as kind of a joke a couple of weeks earlier, I don’t know where we got it from, maybe the energy drink we were consuming (Kong Strong), perhaps a Joni Mitchell song or Miles Davis saying, ‘There are no wrong notes, it all depends on what you play after‘ (might be misquoted… but that’s what we remember hearing). Music is all about creating a vibe or atmosphere where certain stuff is allowed, kind of bending the rules of social reality, and we tried to push ourselves to allow anything to happen, to say yes to every idea, to create the most consensual, awesome mess we could possibly cook up at the time. Our first record was made in just two days and we were very decided on how it was gonna come out sounding before we started recording… Now the songs were not only going to be recorded in the studio, but also get a chance to be rewritten and shaped around production choices. That felt really important to us since we never had the chance or time to do that in a studio before! Both of us had also gathered a lot more skill around studio and recording techniques during the years so we felt that for the first time we were truly in control of our own process. It was a cool feeling!  And then we also had some help from our dear friend Zakarias Lindhammar who engineered our first EP. He really helped to bring the experimental production ideas up a notch.”




Music is all about creating a vibe or atmosphere where certain stuff is allowed, kind of bending the rules of social reality, and we tried to push ourselves to allow anything to happen, to say yes to every idea, to create the most consensual, awesome mess we could possibly cook up at the time.

The album title is loosely inspired by a line from the third track “Instead of This” that goes, “it makes me wonder,” but as Hofvander explains, there’s so much more there than meets the eye. “I guess I thought it would be a fun wink to our first record (Makes You Happy) to name it Makes You Wonder. It captures the difference between the two albums pretty accurately as well. Makes You Happy was more themed towards self reflection, trying to be happy and growing up. Makes You Wonder is more subtle in its lyrical approach, more about celebrating and coming to terms with life. How to fit in and how to stand out. How to exist in between. I don’t want people to understand exactly what the album is about, because neither do I – but I want them to WONDER!”

For Hofvander and Ingvarsson, they do hope some of their own individual authenticity rubs off on the listening experience.

“I do want people to respect our artistic integrity and hear that we haven’t worked with a famous producer trying to create a sound for us,” she says. “We made this happen all by ourselves and that automatically creates a sound that no one else could have made because it fully relies on our individual journeys as musicians and how much you dare to let your ideas loose in the studio and I never want to compromise with that because it’s what makes a band unique. Both Harald and I listen to such a wide range of music from the softest pop to the harshest noise and everything freaky or non-freaky in-between, so when we worked on these songs together we really felt that we could take it in ANY direction. We threw out all limitations regarding sounds or genres because it’s the ultimate freedom that makes being creative in the studio so much fun. I hope people can hear and appreciate that. I’m really tired of music genres…. I say fuck em all. It’s music!”

In keeping with this anything goes melting pot mentality, Hofvander happily describes Makes You Wonder as “a beautiful mess” – and it truly is one, through and through. From the very first seconds of opening track “Dopamine Detox” to the cataclysmic conclusion of its (aptly titled) finale “Beautiful Mess,” Makes You Wonder proves an ear-grabbing, exhilarating, invigorating, dramatic adventure into the unknown. Whereas the tightest tracks are here and away in three minutes’ time, MAPR devote a significant portion of their album to solos and instrumental build-ups that prove cathartic and all-consuming – especially on the album’s second half, where the three tracks “Life in the City,” Som En Dröm,” and “Beautiful Mess” alone take up about twenty full minutes of unbridled, unabridged wonderment. Beyond these more nuanced experimental delights, other instant standouts include the achingly raw overhaul “Instead of This” and emotionally-charged “Wait,” and the fuzzy and fervent upheaval “Summer Girl” – which was previously featured as one of Atwood Magazine‘s Editor’s Picks. “It’s exciting, uplifting slacker pop/indie rock at its finest,” we wrote at the time, further praising MAPR’s sweaty overdrive and feedback-drenched guitars: “There’s a recklessness to this band’s performance that aligns perfectly with their warm, rich harmonies. It’s invigorating, enchanting, and utterly irresistible.”




Mary Anne's Polar Rig © Ebba Ågren
Mary Anne’s Polar Rig © Ebba Ågren

“A personal highlight for me was definitely the making of the album’s closer, ‘Beautiful Mess,'” Hofvander says. “We were on the last few days of the studio visit and it was the only song we hadn’t started working on yet. We had tried a few different things but I wasn’t vibing with any of it so I had my mind set on trashing it so that we would have more time for the other ones. Harald didn’t want that tho and real late one night when it was just us in the studio we decided to give the song one last chance, play it like we used to jam it in our rehearsal space. So he sat down behind the drums and we connected my guitar to both his and my pedal board + amp set up. I remember putting my headphones on and starting to play and it was this HUGE guitar sound haha. It made us so excited. After that we turned off all the lights in the room and played the song a few times. Every take ended up longer than the one before, it was really nice jamming just the 2 of us and everything sounded so clearly in your headphones. I honestly never thought that I would play a 5 min long guitar solo on this record and it sure wouldn’t have happened if we planned for it haha. Still when I listen to the ending of that song I’m like: “damn is that really me playing??” It sounds like a lot of guitars but it’s just one…”

Harald Ingvarsson doubles down on “Beautiful Mess” as a personal band pick. “I honestly share that same highlight,” he says, “plugging in both amps, hard panning them in my headphones, getting to play drums (?!?! I played drums on the demos and love playing even though I’m not as good as the drummers we had come in to play with us). This is also the song I had the hardest time letting go of and I felt really protective of the drumming from the demo. I remember so clearly playing it, it must have been about 30 degrees in the studio and we jammed this loooong outro and i was clenching my jaws in time so that the headphones opened up a little bit, which created this natural sidechain feeling with the drum monitoring, cymbals and guitar. Never heard anything like it. That was fun. And on top of all that it was our finishing track and getting it right, together, just the two of us, felt like a home run.”

it’s so hard to come down when you
never felt so good
yeah you never understood euphoria
and it’s a hard fall to the ground
when you never felt so good
you never understood life before
and it’s a beautiful mess
and all the things that you
find normal is suddenly so beautiful
and your life doesn’t seem so hard
but you can’t help but cry cause you finally found it
yeah you finally found some peace
beautiful mess
and all the things that you
find normal is suddenly so beautiful
and your life doesn’t seem so hard
but you can’t help but cry cause you finally found it
yeah you finally found some peace
you finally found some peace
and then you, and then you come down




Further, while Hofvander and Ingvarsson do say that this album isn’t quite as lyrically focused as their debut, one of their favorite lyrics on Makes You Wonder comes from the nearly eight-minute song, “Life in the City.”

i’m gonna live the outlaw life
get a house and a dog
far from it all
i wanna live the quiet life
don’t depend on nothing
when it all come crashing down
i’ll be ready
i’ll be a prepper in the woods
trees and rocks be my hoods
when it all come crashing
don’t ask me for nothing
oh life in the city
so busy
i’m constantly sleepy
– “Life in the City,” Mary Anne’s Polar Rig

“I remember calling this the lofi-rap-song as a work in progress name,” Hofvander smiles. “I didn’t think it would fit at all on the record, but then the production ideas around it in the studio started growing and we really got excited about making something very atmospheric and non-rock with it. We used a drum loop from the Yamaha PS-20 synth and recorded the base of it with room mics, just us playing along with acoustic guitars and Harald using a wrench for a slide. I wanted the listener to feel like they’re traveling in and out of that room where there is just us and a machine only to be pulled out to something further away again. The first part of it represents city-life. The outro is dedicated to nature and the stillness of it all; the sample in the end comes from people skating on thin ice – I thought it was such a beautiful sound. Also I was in a very conceptual mindset about creating this! I feel like probably a lot of people will skip this song, but I’m cool with that! It was fun alright.”




I don’t want people to judge it; I want people to experience it. And whatever it makes people feel, that’s what they’re supposed to feel.

Makes You Wonder wholeheartedly is a beautiful mess – emphasis on the words “beautiful” and “mess.”

Mary Anne’s Polar Rig’s sophomore album contains multitudes. There are moments of extreme light, love and euphoria, followed shortly by moments of darkness, fracture, and melancholy. Through it all, though, Hofvander and Ingvarsson inject their own raw passion and their perfectly imperfect humanity. This album is, if nothing else, human to the core – and that alone makes it a record worth listening to at least ten times on repeat.

“I want people who listen to this album to have been moved in some way,” Hofvander shares. “They don’t necessarily have to like it – I want them to have heard it and felt something. In fact I want people to both love it and hate it at the same time. I want them to go, ‘Damn that’s a really cool riff, but why the hell did they decide to make the awkward outro so long??‘ I want people to think about the fact that someone made all of these tiny and major decisions come together to create these very specific ten songs and all of the things that had to happen after that to make it end up in your head phones.”

Why? I don’t know why! It’s random! It’s art! I don’t want people to judge it; I want people to experience it. And whatever it makes people feel, that’s what they’re supposed to feel. I will always try to remember that when creating new music, that right and wrong and good and bad only matter when you judge something and that’s not necessarily my job.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Mary Anne’s Polar Rig’s Makes You Wonder with Atwood Magazine as Malin Hofvander goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of the band’s sophomore album!

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:: stream/purchase Makes You Wonder here ::
Stream: ‘Makes You Wonder’ – Mary Anne’s Polar Rig



:: Inside Makes You Wonder ::

Makes You Wonder - Mary Anne's Polar Rig

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Dopamine Detox

Inspiration for this song was two bands we really like: Deerhoof and Pom Poko. I remember also thinking: Primus – but cute! The lyrics are short and straight to the point. The sample in the end really sums up the vibe of this song: WE ALL HAVE A PROBLEM (with modern society).

Summer Girl

This was the first single we released from the album and it was a planned move because I think it serves as a good bridge between our two albums. It ties the old band up with the new one. A lot of straight up 90’s rock references in this one like The Breeders, Guv’ner and Built to Spill. I like that we didn’t cut down on the instrumental parts cause it’s a slow build and Harald plays a killer guitar solo in the end.

Instead of This

I guess this is actually (kinda) the title track! It was also the first song written for this album. Maybe the most pop one. But we wanted the ending to be uncomfortably long, make it really feel like we’re singing some kind of mantra over the same two chords. Anyone who ever heard Godsend by Beat Happening knows what’s going on here….

It Goes

This song sure is special for us. The rhythm is based on this quirky modulation pedal that we timed the whole song around and the b-riff is Malin’s attempt to rip off that cool American Football-riff, now we feel like it’s just that cool MAPR-riff hehe. We were going to bring in Harald’s dad (Mats Ingvarsson) and his friend (Bo Håkansson) on double bass + percussion but Mats got rushed to the hospital a couple of days before which was pretty scary (but he’s ok now!). So we felt A LOT of suspense while recording it, and it is also one of the more “serious” tracks on the record. Bo came in anyways and did the percussion with all his weird bells, drums and rattles and then we tracked the double bass with Mats a couple of months later. The sound design around it gives you both an acoustic and alien feel.

Vem Bryr Sig

This is the anti-song of the record… the title is literally translated to “who cares” and we knew that we wanted to have at least one track on there that would really make the main stream music listeners turn off the record haha. See who would hang in there until the end. It’s a noise set that our old drummer Philip Lindskog did on top of It Goes which we then edited and made into it’s own track. The loop in there is actually from a cassette we found in the studio of my old band Skenet Bedrar. He is singing “ingen bryr sig” (“nobody cares”) over and over again. It’s one of those lil easter eggs 😉

The Way That I’m Feeling

I really wanted to do an instrumental track for this album, the original inspiration for it was songs like “Flipside” by The Breeders and “Allseende Ögat” by iconic swedish band Bob Hund. Fun fact: the two melodies that we sing in the background is stolen from Sun Ra (“space is the place”) and Grease (“grease is the way that i’m feeling”) (“space is the way that I’m feeling”)

Wait

A broken rock waltz. Love and heart break. All the usual. I kind of tried to play a riff like Deerhoof’s L’amour Stories but on one guitar, just having fun with that “call and response”-type playing. Now I really like how that lives on in a lot of the guitars and vocals throughout the entirety of the song.

Life In The City

I remember calling this the lofi-rap-song as a work in progress name. I didn’t think it would fit at all on the record but then the production ideas around it in the studio started growing and we really got excited about making something very atmospheric and non-rock with it. We used a drum loop from the Yamaha PS-20 synth and recorded the base of it with room mics, just us playing along with acoustic guitars and Harald using a wrench for a slide. I wanted the listener to feel like they’re traveling in and out of that room where there is just us and a machine only to be pulled out to something further away again. First part of it represents city-life. Outro is dedicated to nature and the stillness of it all, the sample in the end comes from people skating on thin ice, I thought it was such a beautiful sound. Also I was in a very conceptual mindset about creating this haha. I feel like probably a lot of people will skip this song, but I’m cool with that! It was fun alright.

Som En Dröm

Som en dröm is swedish and translates to like a dream in english. When Niklas (bass) came in and heard this song in the studio (this was before the vocals were recorded) he said “this sounds like chords you sing to in swedish!”. little did he know…. that was already the plan. We had a lot of trouble deciding how long every part and chord change of this song needed to be to maintain the weird suspense we were chasing. But with the help of some very cryptical cheat sheets and intense eye contact I think we managed ⋆ ˚。⋆˚⸜(♡ ॑ᗜ ॑♡)⸝ ˚⋆。˚ ⋆ Now it’s one of the songs I find the most fun to play live 🙂 Also it has a really cool music video!!

Beautiful Mess

This song has a kind of sneaky shape and feeling that was really hard to communicate to other musicians, kinda feels like the two of us are the only ones who got it at the time. We ended up blasting it through two amps and with Harald behind the drums (like on our demo) the last night in the studio, which was so fun and sounded so awesome to us that it became a 9-minute track instead of a 4-minute track. There was no other option than putting it as the album closer. It just felt like it really wrapped all the chaos energy of this record into one place before we could  letting it go.

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:: stream/purchase Makes You Wonder here ::

— — — —

Makes You Wonder - Mary Anne's Polar Rig

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? © Ebba Ågren

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