Solid Second Album Suffers From Expectations.
There are many things that should be hated and those horrible petite blonde robots that call themselves 'Indie Sindies' are high on the list. Some have made a career out of pretending to play instruments and wearing a Rolling Stones T-Shirt. Thankfully the antidote to Pixie Lott and Little Boots exists in the form of Norwegian Ida Maria who returns with a belated international release of second album "Katla".
The follow up to "Fortress Round My Heart" has been out for a while in her home country and parts of it are refreshing. There are nods to the likes of Joan Jett on the rocky 'Bad Karma', which may as well be renamed 'Standout Single', stompy female pop on 'Cherry Red' and even Scatman John (well, to me anyway) when she breaks out the breathy Norwegian speech on the uplifting '10,000 Lovers'.
Fittingly named after an Icelandic volcano, "Katla" was produced by Butch Walker, who's worked with Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne in the past, and to his credit, hasn't attempted to pigeonhole her into over-accessible dumbed down pop-rock, letting Ms. Sivertsen show an authentically rebellious side to female singer-songwriters.
On the other side, there does seem to be a fair amount of filler for an eight track album. The opener was terrible, a slow ballad about how some people are nice and some people are stupid. Thanks. For. That. She bookends the album with another pedestrian track. 'My Shoes' lets Ida throw her voice all over the place but a stronger arrangement would have helped the closer.
If you're not listening closely, some of the tracks resemble each other and it all seems a bit formulaic: Pretty girl gets frustrated about something and sings fairly eloquently on the topic. Rinse and repeat. In fairness to her though, at least there seems to be some genuine effort and emotion in her voice. She means what she says and with some more varied instrumentation, this would be better than her first effort.
Other than 'Bad Karma', proggy masterpiece 'Devil' is another highlight. Weighing in at a hefty just over nine minutes, Ida Maria lets effects, detuned guitars and a choir deconstruct the track, resulting in an almost Ennio Morricone-style apocalypse. Other than her awesome voice, it's the best thing on her album.
Ida Maria is actually quite brave for coming back. It would have been easy to rest on the laurels of her first album and live off the royalties of TV shows using that famous track of hers. But on "Katla", whilst she doesn't have the meme-inspiring hook she used to possess in That Naked Song, this isn't exactly being played off by Keyboard Cat. A solid effort.