Ida Maria - Fortress Round My Heart

Ross Cunningham 28/07/2008

Rating: 3.5/5

Ida Maria Sivertsen is the full name of the unbelievably cute and quirky Norwegian singer who has just burst into the UK charts. Ida has been on the underground radar for sometime but has only recently come to the attention of the wider music buying public thanks to her infectious sounding new single “I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked” which entered the singles chart at number 18 this week on downloads alone. You might be sarcastically thinking “great, just what we need another eccentric Scandinavian pop princess”, well it turns out funnily enough that happens to be exactly what we need.

“Fortress Round My Heart” musically sounds like the perfect punk pop record, but lyrically there's a deeper current of dark dissatisfaction, insecurity and vulnerability that is utterly endearing. Ida's voice is packed with power and beauty and shifts in a second from a husky raspy snarl sounding like the perfect blend of Courtney Love and Bonnie Tyler to a soaring sweet pop infused Chrissie Hynde-esque vocal.

If the words “Oh My God” used to send you into a Kaiser Chiefs induced panic attack then you'll be glad to hear that there's a new song by the same name that is altogether much more satisfying. The album opener starts with dual guitars and a driving drum beat as Ida pleads “Find a cure; find a cure for my life” before breaking into the screaming chorus of “oh my god, oh you think I'm in control”. The breakneck speed instant anthem is the ideal way to grab your new audience's attention. “Louie” has Ida confessing about her love of getting drunk, and has her chasing the attention of “Louie” in a perfect two and a half minute slice of upbeat sounding pop. “I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked” slides in nicely at track four and raises the tempo and intensity of the album further with its catchy chorus and imagery of having nothing much in common with someone other than when you're in bed and well naked together. The almost compulsory mid album ballad is provided by “Keep Me Warm” and has already made me fall in love with the way she says “Cigarettes”.

The album is full of sing-along hooks and toe tapping drums and guitar riffs, “Forgive Me” sounds like the most tongue in cheek apology ever as Ida's voice breaks and grates with raw energy while she laments being treated like shit by a lover. Previous single “Stella” has god handing over the world to a 43 year old hooker from downtown and again sees Ida's voice at its most forced and stretched with her elongated screams of “Stella”. The album comes to an end with “See Me Through”, a delicate and sedate acoustic guitar strums in the background while Ida questions the existence of a higher power with lines such as “Oh god I can't believe in you just because I'm afraid you're true”. It's a nice way to finish the record and shows off the more restrained side of Ida's voice perfectly perhaps alluding to a future direction in her songwriting. The album is ridiculously easy to listen to, it breezes through from start to finish before you notice and once it's stopped spinning instantly begs to be played again.

I would imagine a lot of re-releasing of previous singles will soon follow due to the success of “I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked”. Try not to hold this against Ida; she seems like a somewhat fragile, loveably mad soul and on the strength of her debut album definitely has the talent to back up her eccentric persona.