CD Review: Ida Maria — Fortress ‘Round My Heart

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Ida Maria
Fortress 'Round My Heart
Mercury Records

By Alexandra Edwards

What is the fortress around
Ida Maria's heart? Perhaps it's the frantically fun beat, the enjoyment of the
night of with no thought of the morning after. The songs are stories of bars
and boys, but with little sense of lament. Even on "Queen of the World," when
she sings "I'm lonely this year, I'm lonely forever," a sense of joy underpins
the sentiment. It's the feeling of abandoning all concern for recklessness,
with the half time handclaps urging her on. The band mixes hints of PJ Harvey's
guitar sound with more candid pop (think new wave, not boy bands), spinning
angular guitars and slightly out-of-rhythm drumbeats into a restless post-punk
dream. 

None of this would be possible without lead singer Ida Maria
Sivertsen's expressive voice. Her Norwegian accent is barely noticeable, but
adds a sheen of the exotic over every line. She can straight up sing — and she
does — but she also screams, yelps, breathes, and bellows her lyrics. Sometimes
she's scratchy, sometimes she's (just slightly) flat, but it always works. The
fierceness of her voice propels the album forward, hustling the band through
each of the songs with an energy that's messy but never sloppy.

The album
has its slower moments ("Keep Me Warm" and album closer "In the End"), but the
best songs are the upbeat ones. "I Like You Much Better When You're Naked" is
the perfect example: a garage rock barnburner filled with driving beats,
hicupped vocals, and a living room dance party singalong in its ecstatic final
moments.  "Morning Light" begins with Sivertsen sounding deceptively girlish; by
the second line, she's laughing breathlessly while the band practically dares
the listener not to bounce to the beat.

If you've ever pined for a
female-fronted bar band to soundtrack nights of youthful folly and wild abandon,
Ida Maria is exactly what you've hoped for.  Simple, straightforward, and too
fun not to dance to.

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