“No frills guitar rock,” that is how I was initially introduced to Norwegian Ida Maria’s particular brand of insert-classic-rock-reference songwriting. Her lauded debut Fortress Round My Heart (2008) was all elegant homage to the good’ole days and none of the inherent monotony that goes along with it. The album was, for better or for worse, a collection of semi-drunken lullabies that were as apt to cue the likes of Janis Joplin and The Pretenders as they were a Florence + The Machine or Regina Spektor. Simply put: the girl was, and still is, all over the place—but it never mattered as she conducted her final product so well. No frills guitar rock this is not, but an extension of the boundaries of pop-music is a bit farfetched as well. What Ms. Sivertsen produces—extremely well for that matter—is heart-on-sleeve Rock n' Roll; absurdly catchy and surprisingly accomplished without shaking Pop’s foundations. Though one would probably be right to assume that was never what Ida Maria had set out to do in the first place. Instead Katla is an eclectic sophomore record with a sublime sense of playfulness and a loose, quirky structure.
While it is easy to see borders Katla has created to the side of Ida Maria what is more important is the lack of any real ceiling. Sure she has her jaded indie-isms (“Quite Nice People”), her Jack White gargantuan riff (“Bad Karma”); a bombastic guitar-driven slow burner there (“Devil”) a blast of New Wave punk there (“Let’s Leave”) —but what matters is how well it all comes together. Katla is an extremely varied album aesthetically but is expertly tracked. Sivertsen is free-form on record yet for all the turns of influence (oh my, those horns on “I Eat Boys like You for Breakfast”) Ida Maria never stumbles. If nothing else Katla is a continuation of Fortress Round My Heart’s confessional nature with more attention paid to its sky bound arrangements and adoration for stadium-sized production. Yet Katla does not feel bloated or mundane; I mention stadiums in an attempt to categorize the best place for Sivertsen’s pipes as opposed to her ambitions. She tries to be little more than a drunken confessor but no one or anything will hold her voice down. Even as her lyrics tend to lack their previous bite it is in Maria’s wail that lines such as “You're so pretty/Like the rising sun” become less a half-assed doting and more an invigorated adoration.
This is not to infer every one of Katla’s faults are alleviated by virtue of Sivertsen’s vocal talent—just most of them. The end product is enough for even the most steadfast lyrical snob to find immense enjoyment out of simply joining in Ida Maria’s fun. Which in truth could be Katla’s utmost saving grace: Ida Maria’s performance grants a level of gravitas to her music that at first seems a bit too neutral for its own good. By the time “Gallery” kicks off though you have forgotten that demure girl from the record’s onset as she’s blossomed into a beast by the album’s end. Thankfully for us though: Ida Maria plays her part so well and Katla is no slouch of a sophomore record. Rather it is a confirmation that all the high hopes and emphatic praise lopped on top of Ida Maria was not wasted ambition or blowhard assessment. She may actually just be that good.
2. Bad Karma
3. 10000 Lovers
4. Cherry Red
5. Let's Leave
6. I Eat Boys Like You For Breakfast
8. My Shoes
Ida Maria (full name Ida Maria Børli Sivertsen, b. July 13th 1984) is an indie rock/punk artist from Nesna, Norway, currently living in Sweden. Her first album, Fortress Round My Heart, was released in Norway and the UK on May 5th, 2008.
Ida Maria won Zoom Urørt in 2006 and the Urørt-competition in 2007 (both are Norwegian competitions for unsigned artists) and played some of Norway`s biggest festivals. In 2007 she also won Alarmprisen (Norwegian music awards).... read more