Release Date: Apr 14, 2009
Record label: Mercury/Island
Genre(s): Rock, Pop
The words ”Norwegian ingenue” call up images of anemic, blond-ified whisper-pop. Instead, on Fortress ‘Round My Heart, Ida Maria plays the husky-voiced brunet banshee to the hilt, spinning tales of 43-year-old prostitutes (”Stella”) and drunken benders (”Louie”) with admirably fearless fervor. B Download This: Listen to the song ”Oh My God” on last.fm See all current music reviews from EW .
Not long after PopMatters lavished heaps of richly deserved praise in the wake of her performance at CMJ in October of 2007, a bit of an Internet buzz started to form around Norwegian-born, Swedish-based sparkplug Ida Maria Børli Sivertsen, bloggers quickly latching on to her incendiary garage rock throwback single “Oh My God”, filesharers exchanging her demo tracks. She and her three-piece backing band had already been touring Scandinavia extensively, building a fanbase and establishing a reputation as a powerhouse live act, but things started to turn early in 2008 when the slavering UK music press latched itself onto Ida Maria’s increasingly crowded bandwagon, resulting in a raucous performance on BBC’s later…With Jools Holland. After her triumphant homecoming performance in Oslo at the annual By:Larm festival, where she won the fest’s award of a $20,000 grant, it was only a matter awaiting her much-anticipated debut album, which upon its May release debuted at number three on the Norwegian album chart and remained in the top 20 for much of the year.
"Oh My God" was one of 2008's most explosive and ear-catching singles, a burst of punky guitar pop propelled by an electric vocal performance from 23-year-old Norwegian breakout star Ida Maria Sivertsen. "Oh, you think I'm in control," she taunts, her voice teasing out the tension between commanding authority and unhinged chaos -- she sounds at once powerful and vulnerable, ready to collapse or destroy at any moment. If the rest of Fortress Round My Heart can't hope to match the searing intensity of its calling card, much of it is nearly as engaging, both musically and emotionally.
There is a moment in "Forgive Me" where Ida Maria's voice becomes so strained and anguished that you almost want to wince. The young Norwegian has a gift for conviction, and it flows in every vein of her body and lingers in each syllable she utters, regardless if a good or bad time is being had. It's during that moment in "Forgive Me" that I realized that her voice is the best instrument on the album.
Listening to Norwegian Ida Maria Sivertsen's debut album is like listening to a teenager who dreams of becoming a fully-fledged professional rock chick when she grows up. There is a juxta-position between the punchiness of Sivertsen's arrangements and hooks - her songs are pop-punk whirlwinds which hare past at light speed - and her vocal affectations (mostly consisting of veering off pitch wherever possible) which makes the end result fall flat: Sivertsen wants to be seen as out-of-control, but instead sounds more like she is pretending to be drunk. Sometimes, the songs are so concise and no-nonsense that Sivertsen is reined in: on Stella she manages to capture a genuine sense of yearning, while I Like You Better When You're Naked, propelled less by lust than power, is a riot of focused energy.