Single Review – Sigrid – Strangers

Sigrid Raabe has caught everyone’s attention this year with her fluent and adept vocals with a razor sharp quality that cuts through each track of simple, but spacious electro-pop. The Norwegian has released one Pop hit after another and has the ability to deliver these performances live as well as she did in Glastonbury. With an album surely the next destination, Sigrid has released a new song in ‘Strangers’. It typically shows off her vocal flexibility from the easy, smooth tones to the belting harmonies at the switch of tempo. Amongst the oscillating beats, she takes control of the hooks and melody with an intrepid beat the only thing accompanying her throughout. It is a masterclass in simple Pop music and you better get used to it, because Sigrid is here to stay. 

Owen Riddle

MØ – When I Was Young EP Review 

It’s a shame that MǾ is probably most known for her collaborative pop efforts with the likes of Cheat Codes, Diplo and Major Lazer, because her solo work is something quite special – epitomised in her new EP When I Was Young. The six-piece track list comes as the most notable release from the Danish songstress since her debut album No Mythologies to Follow, and glistens with both imaginative contemporary pop at its finest, and also the grittier side to her style.

The eponymous track gallops alongside the earthy tones of MǾ’s vocals, opening with a classic synth bounce and a spacious bass to follow. The chorus builds until it dips into what can only be described as an extremely different/extremely clever “bass drop” – it erupts with sax and fizzes with vocal chimes, giving it a childish joviality that reflects the title of the track. It’s a seriously fun addition to the track list. The next most upbeat number comes in the form of Linking With You. The synths add sizzle to the thumping bass that carries catchy chorus lyrics and MǾ’s famous harmonies. Both tracks give a sense of bubbling, youthful elation.

Sat in the middle of the spectrum is Bb. It’s more relaxed than the previous two, but still centralises a thundering bass to parade MǾ’s – it feels less excitable, but still has a blissful glow about it. But it’s sharper, more coarse; it’s more definitive and less carefree. In a similar vein is Turn My Heart To Stone. The highlight of this song is the chorus, in which MǾ morphs her voice into something completely striking, piercing into the subtle synth backing track.

Then at the grimier end of the scale, we have Roots and Run Away. Both drawing similarities to the melancholic tenors of Lana del Rey, they explore a more relaxed and minimalist approach to pop. Roots opens with a bellowing organ – and being the opening track on the EP, it sets an unnerving tone for what’s to come, quite discordant from the reality. The monotonous organ riff seethes throughout, becoming lighter at the chorus to match the higher pitch, and meets some oriental instrumentalism that makes for a very interesting and diverse track. Run Away is something of an achievement; it’s rich and gravelly, yet keeps things simple and stripped back, with a guitar and vocals leading the way for much of the track.

MǾ’s When I Was Young is very much an accomplished EP, bringing out the best in pop music and attacking from all angles. She promises an LP is in the works – and if this is anything to go by, it will be huge.

MǾ – When I Was Young: 9/10

Ellie Chivers

Sløtface – Try Not To Freak Out Review 

As the year has unfolds trying not to freak out is on a lot of peoples minds, particularly those who have one eye on the news, but when it comes to alt-punk, debut album ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ by Norwegian Sløtface is a title hard to abide by. 

Opener ‘Magazine’ is one of those tracks that’s instantly addictive. A fight back against trash websites and magazines, you know the ones that still attempt to put people down about their appearance, with so much joyous guitar lines and energetic percussion it’s too late to stay calm. Lyrics like; ‘Thoughts that aren’t mine keep running through my head, thunder thighs keeps reaching for the measuring tape,’ ‘Pattie Smith would never put up with this shit,’ seem the kind of lines ready-made for a hundred slogan t-shirts or Instagram posts.  

While most of the album fits within this energetic punch to the rib-cage voltage there are some tracks that hint at a slower pace. ‘Galaxies’ for example mellows things down for the briefest of moments while things get a slightly darker tone within ‘Night Guilt’ and ‘Try’, both adding a little self-reflective anxiety to the table.

Though it’s undeniable that the true strength of Sløtface remains in their overwhelmingly addictive singles. Infusing the bands bouncy punk-pop sound while never losing that aggressive edge. Tracks like ‘Pitted,’ an end of the world party that anyone would want to be invited to, even those who might have to ‘fake it to bohemian rhapsody’, and ‘Nancy Drew’ pummel so much grungy guitar chords and drums into perfect bites at mediocre music and patriarchal society, it’s simply impossible to not love them.

Though still fuelled by an eagerness to fight back at the world, a lot of tracks are a celebration of nostalgic memories. Feeling the freedom and joy of times that may have appeared a little more fun, tracks like ‘Slumber’ drifts into a shadowy nostalgia of being wrapped up in blankets on the floor watching old horror movies while closer ‘Backyard’ with guitarist Tor-ArneVikingstad’s and bassist Lasse Lokøy’s crunchy guitar lines, as well as Halvard Skeie Wiencke’s vibrant drums, encapsulate the freedom of behaving like a toddler for 2 minutes 51 seconds. 

With so many slices of raucousness alt-pop-punk energy ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ not only shows vocalist Haley Shea crafting a lyric like Debbie Harry standing shoulder to shoulder with Becca Macintyre but the bands ability to mix together an infectious amount of rock chords, bass hooks and a wonderful amount of political activist philosophy. Although it might just be possible to hold it together in the face of world news and natural disaster with an album like this surely it’s okay to freak out, just a little.

Sløtface – Try Not To Freak Out = 9/10

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Sløtface – Backyard

New single ‘Backyard’ from Norwegian alt-punk’s Sløtface is yet another slice of raucousness. Starting off with crunchy guitar lines things fill out into the band’s pop infused melodies, though never losing that aggressive punk edge. Encapsulating the freedom of behaving like a toddler for 2 minutes 51 seconds, the track is as energised as a small child of the nineties after having just eaten an entire bowl of the blue smarties. Almost completely recorded in one take the track feels vibrate and spontaneous. Singer Haley Shea describes ‘Backyard’ as; ‘celebrating the adventures you had as a kid that often came from a desperate need to not be bored….It’s about trying to capture a sense of that wonder and fun in a new way as you grow up.’ Without a doubt this single screams of those moments when you confused your parent by behaving like a wild-child in your own backyard. 

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Anna of the North – Money

After dropping Someone – an essential summery pop listen – it’s no surprise that Anna of the North’s latest single, Money, chimes with the same sickly sweetness. Bubbling from underneath Anna Lotterud’s dreamy vocals are rising retro-pop riffs and thumping percussion, coming to a slick crescendo in the irresistible chorus. According to her, the song is an “S/O to fake friends and gold diggers”, and the message rings loud and clear in piercing vocals and the beautifully simplistic synth backings delivered by Brady Daniell-Smith. The freshman album – Lovers – promises more sparkling pop, and is due to be released in September.

Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – Susanne Sundfør – Mountaineers feat. John Grant

Second single from soon to be released new album ‘Music For People In Trouble’ ‘Mountaineers’ see’s Norwegian singer-songwriter Susanne Sundfør team up with, the always intriguing, John Grant to produce a track that feels closer to a cloistral hymn than alt-pop. If your idea of calm involves the throaty sound of distant monks gathered around an ancient shrine, during the foggy hours of a cold morning, ‘Mountaineers’ is perfect for you. With the feel of one of those ten minute YouTube audio videos meant to relax your mind with the constant hum of Tibetan singing bowls, John Grant’s drifting vocal opens the single with an eerie atmosphere of rumbled, over-tone style chanting.Though medieval Gregorian chant isn’t the only style being included here. Things gradually transform as Sundfør’s crystal clear vocal breaks over the track, after 2 minutes and 14 seconds. Flitting between bluesy vocal and a clarity that feels almost anime like. At around the 3-minute mark things even begin humming with the sound of an 80’s power ballad, a little Jennifer Rush mixed with Kate Bush, as organ chords ring out, rising towards that unseen mountain top, before things fracture slightly into a more chaotic crescendo and Sundfør brings her expedition to its gentle close. 

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Sløtface – Pitted

A fizzy headed, joyously honest dose of pure pop-punk, at its absolute adolescent best, Sløtface’s new single ‘Pitted’ is an energetically, frank slice of modern life. Third track released in build up to the Norwegian band’s forthcoming debut album; ‘Try Not To Freak Out’, a title which without a doubt will be hard to abide by, ‘Pitted’ see’s vocalist Haley Shea tell the familiar story of protagonist who would rather stay home and watch Netflix on the sofa, while eating a family size bag of Doritos, than venture out into the wild. Forced to stray into the land of alcopops, luckily for all those involved, they soon find themselves quickly transformed into the life of the party. Perfectly encapsulating those blurring eyed, stumbling moments that leave you wondering; did I really scream Beyoncé is the true queen of the world or was that just a strange hazy dream? ‘Pitted’s punchy hook and heartwarming sarcasm create a hopelessly youthful, addictively life-affirming track.  

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Sløtface – Nancy Drew

Norwegian Sløtface’s new single ‘Nancy Drew’ mixes grungy driving guitar chords and pummelling drums into a perfect punk track that bites back at mediocre music and patriarchal society. The band’s debut album ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ is due for release in September and is sure to be fuelled by an infectious amount of rock chords, electronica bass hooks, and feminist philosophy. Vocalist Haley Shea crafts a lyric like Debbie Harry standing shoulder to shoulder with Becca Macintyre, Jennifer Clavin, and The Runaways backed by the constant force of guitarist Tor-Arne Vikingstad, drummer Halvard Skeie Wiencke and bassist Lasse Lokøy. ‘Watch out she’s a nightmare, Nancy Drew, she’s sneaking up on you,’ Sløtface’s ‘Nancy Drew’ is a superhero, assassin re-imagining of the teen sleuth ready to fight the patriarchy with blistering guitars, what’s not to love. 

Haley Miller

Single Review – Anna of the North – Lovers

Ahead of the release of much-anticipated debut album due September 8th, Anna Of The North releases new single, and title track, ‘Lovers’. A delicately dreamy synth pop track that pulsates like a heartbroken hushed prayer. ‘Lovers’ is an artfully poised take on the ever popular gentle eighties inspired pop sound. Norwegian vocalist, Anna Lotterud, and New Zealand producer, Brady Daniell-Smith craft a track that seems to echo with the fragility of relationships and the loneliness of heartbreak. As Daniell-Smith describes, the track is: ‘speaking of – those promises that we can’t keep like, I’ll always be there for you and, I’ll never leave.’ Lotterud adds; ‘the song describes the point when you feel alone and you’ve reached out but they’re not reaching back.’

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Anna of the North – Oslo

With today being #BlueMonday (a name given to the third Monday of January reported to be the most depressing day of the year for countries in the northern hemisphere.) it seems like an appropriate time to share my thoughts on Anna of the North’s new single Oslo. Let’s face it Monday’s can be tough, especially after the euphoria of Christmas & the New Year has worn off – if you are looking for a song to get you out of bed on these dark winter mornings, Oslo might just do the trick. The track is playfully uplifting and synth-heavy. It has a fresh morning feeling to it and I listened to it this morning to give me the courage to get out of bed at 5:30AM for the gym. The song is all about new beginnings , which is echoed in the video by the picturesque landscapes and gorgeous sunrise…guaranteed to have you thinking a winter break before the summer! 

Ony Anukem