Norwegian pop star of the future offers a multi-dimensional and emotionally resolute collection of tracks on a quirky yet mature debut record.
“With the world’s eyes on her, Sigrid’s debut record is an illustriously refined body of pop, brimming with originality and fearlessness”
A rippling tide of momentum has been sweeping across the Scandinavian pop scene in recent years, with the likes of Icona Pop, MØ, Alma, Tove Lo, Tove Stryke and Boy Pablo taking big strides forward with successful releases. Carrying the torch for this burgeoning influx of pop stars however is a Norwegian artist who broke through in 2017 with internationally acclaimed debut EP ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’. Since then, Sigrid Solbarkk Raabe, known merely as Sigrid, has had a top 10 single in Strangers and more noticeably, been announced as the winner of BBC Music Sound of 2018, highlighting an artist set to breakthrough to the mass global market. With the world’s eyes on her, Sigrid’s debut record is an illustriously refined body of pop, brimming with originality and fearlessness.
“Its soaring chorus is an addictively entertaining prospect”
As might be expected, Sucker Punch is a record containing a hearty dose of pop perfection. Debut single ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is an insurgent and vocally impressive offering, reaching unbridled heights in its final stages. A noticeable fire rages within the young singer, who hits back at past critics and the male-dominated industry, rallying listeners to take charge of their own lives. Opening single and the record’s title track, Sucker Punch is a dramatic synth-pop anthem narrating the surprising pleasure of a newfound, yet unexpected relationship. Its soaring chorus is an addictively entertaining prospect, embellished with hidden diva-like qualities amongst the metallic percussion shuffle underneath.
“Stranger’s deeply-irresistible groove-laden nature is pop music of the highest quality”
‘Sight of You’’s blissful optimism is strangely calming. With a staccatoed string section reminiscent of early Clean Bandit, it feels strange commenting on the lack of pure out-and-out pop hits in the charts aside from Dua Lipa’s in recent years, yet Sigrid offers joyous and determined tracks even amongst times of hardship. Narrating the struggles faced whilst touring and the subsequent positivity received from both fans and her band in response, the single was written on a boat in London and inspired by a gig she performed at in Dublin during the summer of 2018. ‘Stranger’’s deeply-irresistible groove-laden nature is pop music of the highest quality. A shrill Bjork-esque tone rings out as lyrics ‘I don’t want you, all you want is someone / Going home together to forget we’re alone’ provide an honest and moving reflection of growing up. Whilst lines ‘We’re falling head over heels / For something that ain’t real’ detail wanting something to be something that it’s not, the bona fide club anthem is one of the best singles on the record.
There are plenty of sublime, electo-pop offerings that dazzle in the fashion you expect on Sucker Punch, but there are some unexpected surprises, many of which containing a certain emotional intelligence unheard of from many musicians of her age. A pulsating musical arrangement sets the backdrop for the Norwegian singer’s self-assured vocals on ‘Don’t Feel Like Crying’. Lines ‘Wallowing in it would be such a waste / That isn’t gonna fix it anyway’ approach the breakdown of a relationship with a certain grace, and it is this fiercely independent maturity and rousing optimism that acts as an inspiring message to help lift the heads of the broken-hearted.
“Perhaps the most surprising offering on the record, Sigrid’s humble nature is conveyed wonderfully and remains vital to her artistic integrity”
The playful, soothing and production-heavy ‘Business Dinners’ is an intended ode to Japanese film company Studio Ghibli, and highlights Sigrid’s struggle to control her own image in the media. Perhaps the most surprising offering on the record, Sigrid’s humble nature is conveyed wonderfully and remains vital to her artistic integrity. Mine ‘Right Now’’s wobbly, synth-pop brings the nostalgia of the 80s into the modern era. A joyful, bouncing piece of pop bliss, the single focuses on living within the moment, leaving past and future worries on the shelf. The expansive ‘Basic’ rides through a series of peaks and troughs, building the single up and bringing the listener into the singer’s deepest thoughts, before stripping the arrangement back to a DIY-distorted chorus, which was actually recorded using Voice Memos on an iPhone. Whilst perplexing at first, the recording style resonates as a bold and fascinating new idea for pop production. ‘Whilst Never Mine’’s smooth, groove-oriented nature flows without fault from beginning to end, it feels outmuscled amongst some of the poppier heavyweights.
“the resonating melancholy within the first half of the single disperses into a lifting and transparent electro-synth finale”
For an artist trying to push through to pop’s elite core, Sigrid’s down-to-earth style is instantly fresh. A homage to gaming, the steadily bouncing ‘Level Up’ was recorded in her kitchen in her hometown, and delicately weaves a charming narration of how any relationship is strengthened after navigating through difficulties. ‘Dynamite’ perhaps offers the best vocal performance on the record. Offering a unique and thought-provoking perspective into the life of a pop singer, the delicate piano ballad highlights the sacrifices that Sigrid has made, for example with lyrics ‘I miss you, but I’ve got things to do’. Her emotional honesty is further highlighted on In Vain, a heart-wrenching ballad. Putting her heart on her sleeve, the resonating melancholy within the first half of the single disperses into a lifting and transparent electro-synth finale.
Sigrid’s fearless debut record is an easily relatable offering, adding a fresh face to the bland and diluted pop market. Whilst the final two album tracks slightly hinders the tempo built up over the course of the album, the Norwegian singer is charming and charismatic throughout. She doesn’t succumb to the usual pitfalls attached to debut records from young and enthusiastic pop stars. There lies a resoluteness within the tracks on the album. They all stand tall as individual recordings without blurring into a drudging soup of similarity. Tracks like Business Dinners and Basic cut short the belief that Sucker Punch is just a one-dimensional sugar-sweet pop record, and as a whole, the record remains vitally original, seeping with artistic integrity and marking out an artist destined for bigger things in the pop industry.
Featured Image courtesy of Sigrid Official Facebook Page.