Ida Maria is something of a musical chameleon.
The Norwegian songstress exploded onto the scene with 2008’s Fortress ‘round My Heart, a pulse-pounding, wholly unique rock experience. It’s a little punk and a little pop, but definitely not pop punk. It’s got surprisingly tender moments, and those of pure unrestrained joys. Fortress ‘round My Heart remains among my favorite albums to this day (I had the DJ play “Oh My God” at my wedding).
She followed that up with Katla in 2010. If it weren’t for her distinctive voice — equal parts smooth, smokey, rumbling, and unrestrained — you’d be hard pressed to know this was by the same artist. Ida Maria took a hard turn toward blues rock with this one, with dashes of harder rock and even mariachi.
Katla was followed up with Love Conquers All in 2013, Ida Maria’s third studio album. For one reason or another she decided to release this one in Norway only and, aside from a scattering of Youtube videos, I have not been able to find this one in America. (If you know where I can, please let me know!) From the little I have heard, Love Conquers All is a delightfully indie rock romp, with guitar-driven verses and choruses that touch back to her raw Fortress days.
2014 saw the release of her Accidental Happiness EP, which is sort of a collection of all the sounds that Maria’s played in previously. Though short, its exceedingly sweet.
Things really get interesting with Maria’s fourth studio album, 2016’s Scandalize My Name. It’s essentially a gospel album (songs include “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” and “On My Journey, Mt. Zion”) which I don’t think anybody saw coming. But there is a twist — its gospel by way of some of the silkiest, slinkiest, sexiest jazz, with a smattering of other influences thrown in. While I don’t care much for the lyrics (I’m very not religious), the power that Ida Maria sings with is undeniable.
Ida Maria Takes Another Turn?
All of this is to set the scene for this past Monday, when Ida Maria surprised fans and dropped a previously unannounced track, “Scandilove”. And boy does she stay on character — this new single is completely unlike anything she’s done before.
Most of the music she’s put out has clear and undeniable roots in rock. “Scandilove” flips the script on that (and definitely flips the script on Scandalize) — its pure candy pop goodness. Honestly it makes me think of what ABBA would have sounded like if they had formed 40 or 45 years after they did.
“Scandilove” is like Scandinavia’s answer to America’s summer party anthems — it’s a winter party anthem! Or at least its part winter party anthem, because it definitely also functions as a love letter to the notoriously chilly region which she calls home.
After a few days of listening, I can say with certainty that, while undeniably enjoyable, “Scandilove” is not my favorite Ida Maria track — it’s a little bit too produced, too polished. It feels like she’s trying to force herself into a particular sound and is only finding success at a rate of about 75%.
But its definitely fun, definitely intriguing, my foot is definitely tapping, and its definitely got me interested to see what the ever-experimental Ida Maria does next.