(5 / 5)
If you do not know who Sigrid is by now, maybe go back to the remote cave you’ve been living in this past two years or so. Since she stormed onto the scene in 2017 with the traffic-stopping track “Don’t Kill My Vibe”, Sigrid has dropped two EPs and a bunch of sizzling singles.
The young Norwegian artist has played Glastonbury, appeared on TV on The Royal Variety show, on Later…with Jools Holland and on The Graham Norton Show. A staggering 570 million people around the world have streamed her music – and rising. She deservedly won the BBC Sound of 2018.
Sigrid has just kicked off a UK arena tour with George Ezra and plays her biggest headline shows to date in November 2019, performing at London’s Eventim Apollo and 3Arena in Dublin – part of her own 10-date headline tour in Europe, Ireland and the UK. She also tours with Maroon 5 across Europe in June.
But despite this eye-watering success in the very early days of her career, she has not yet released a full album. Well, as of a few hours ago, that statement was accurate. But cue the fanfare…today is the day, folks. “Sucker Punch” was released today, Friday 8th March.
As I write this review, I am going to stick my neck out and make a prediction. After a week or maybe two following today’s release, “Sucker Punch” will reach the Top 10 in the UK album chart. Maybe even Top five. Definitely # 1 in Norway.
I made some more predictions about this young Norwegian artist last year. In our end of year “Best Of” round-up and “awards” for 2018. We gave Sigrid the “Best EP of 2018” nod for “Raw” and “Best Female Artist Of 2018”.
But we predicted….that Sigrid’s debut album “Sucker Punch” would be the biggest selling UK album release of 2019, do very well in USA too and would spawn at least three # 1 singles……
So, let’s see how we do at the end of this year, eh? But no matter how accurate our crystal ball gazing turns out to be, this new album really is a stunning breath of fresh air. She’s unstoppable.
A dozen original cuts – circa 42 minutes of music. It’s joyous. It’s uplifting. It’s youthful, but with depth and thoughtfulness beyond her years. It makes me smile and forget my bills and bloody Brexit.
It’s a triumph, and so far removed from manufactured pop and boy bands/girl bands, and the tedious constant conveyor belt of talent show male and female singers, who couldn’t write their own songs if their lives depended on it.
This is talent writ large. Sigrid Solbakk Raabe is the full package. Real deal. The voice. The song writing craft. The performance. The lot. The very first moment I heard “Don’t Kill My Vibe” back in 2017, my gob was well and truly smacked.
As a former music manager and producer, if I was ever going to find a towering talent to stake my house and pension on, and whose music lit up the darkness of a dull, stale, staid pop world today, it was this voice and this song writing gift. Alas, I was a tad too late for that…
But I was as sure as eggs is eggs that this was a future superstar artist at the start of her journey to the top, and destined for a career that’ll be longer than a DFS “must end Tuesday” sale.
On the debut album, you’ll recognise the singles “Sucker Punch” (title track and I love it), “Strangers” (really love it), and maybe the current A-listed single “Don’t Feel Like Crying” (a really cracking song and fab vocal).
“Don’t Feel Like Crying” reveals a break-up Sigrid went through, a track that puts me in mind a little bit of the wonderful 2002 cut by Vanessa Carlton, “A Thousand Miles”.
The one that catapulted Sigrid to international attention is here, of course. Never get tired of hearing “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” the quirky and attitude-soaked ditty about being dissed by a bunch of much older, male songwriters before her fame. One of the best pop records for decades.
Unusually, the A-listed and brilliantly catchy “High Five” single is not included on the album. “Mine Right Now”, was inspired by ’80s music, with an aim to create a BIG sounding, summer festival cracker.
“Basic”, has been around in demo form for three years or so. We are let in on a slice of the original demo recording of that song with a snippet from an iPhone recording. Nice touch. Another trademark ear-worm hook and Sigrid’s pleasing upper register in the chorus. Good choice for a single methinks.
“Level Up” could have been penned by McCartney – a sweet simplicity to it that you’d expect from a songwriter after decades of honing their craft, not a handful of years.
The pretty and infectious “Sight Of You” has radio hit all over it. The lush string arrangement and gorgeous vocal is just lovely. Ripe for a TV or film soundtrack. Not too far from Clean Bandit territory perhaps.
“In Vain” has the F-bomb in it , but she’s forgiven! Sigrid sings this ‘lost love’ song with conviction; the passion and emotion of someone who has experienced heartbreak. Love the growl in the back of her throat. With a radio edit, cutting it down by about a minute, this could be a winning single.
“Business Dinners” has a great hook and is inspired by Sigrid’s admiration for Studio Ghibli, the Japanese film company behind “Spirited Away.” She loves that soundtrack. Here she talks about business in a fun way.
“Never Mine” is Sigrid’s attempt to go for a smooth groove and the kind of track she’d have hit the dance floor to as the last song at a school dance. It’s got a kind of Kate Bush vibe for me. Good stuff.
The closer “Dynamite” ends this sparkling debut with a gentle, piano-tinkling, stripped back ballad. Nowhere to hide for her vocal and that’s never an issue. Stunning control and soaring innate passion. Quite beautiful. I need a moment…
I greatly appreciate that nothing is over-produced, and all of these songs can breathe. I also cannot heap too much praise on the strength and ease of her vocal – and its quirkiness and passion is never suffocated for the sake of “production”.
The material is such a natural fit to her versatile vocal. It is all so on-trend without being deemed “fashionable”, and therefore unlikely to become yesterday’s sound in the near future. She serves the songs as a singer, which shows a maturity way beyond her 22 years.
Sigrid’s “Sucker Punch” debut is as cool as the Norwegian fjords of her homeland. It’s hotter than last month’s record-breaking temperatures in the UK. An audacious start to a music career which could reach heights even Sigrid could not dream of.
My “record of the year” and yes, I know it is only March. But if I come across something as special by December 2019 that would change my mind, I’ll say here and now…I’ll eat my cat. I must get the “h” mended on this keyboard…
By Simon Redley
STOP PRESS: In the 5th paragraph of this review, I predicted Sigrid’s debut album would enter the UK album chart in the Top 10 within a week of release. I added that I’d actually expect Top 5. In today’s chart, exactly one week since release, Sigrid’s album “Sucker Punch” blasted into the chart at number…….wait for it…..FOUR. Told ya! It’ll go higher next week. You see.
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’