Sunday, March 10, 2019

Review: Sucker Punch • Sigrid

Sigrid started with a splash. Though the 22-year-old singer-songwriter tinkered around with music in her native Norway earlier this decade, she went international in 2017 with "Don't Kill My Vibe," a damning proclamation against unnamed songwriting titans who tried to discount her abilities. But from there, her popularity grew as she decided exactly what she wanted from her career: The success of "Strangers" proved she can put together one hell of a club smash, but the underwhelming Raw extended play, released awkwardly in the middle of the build-up for her debut full-length, was the product of a newcomer unsure of her place in music.

Ultimately, she countered with Sucker Punch, an uncomplicated pop record that matches its artist's causal style and retains her growing pains. Ignoring the Raw extended play entirely, the record picks up career essentials "Strangers," "Don't Kill My Vibe," and "Dynamite," and continues forward with a set of proficient pop songs about falling in love, breaking up, and persevering against the industry. Her infectious hooks command attention, especially on the supersized servings like the title track and "Mine Right Now," and her vocal versatility is utilized in great capacity. But while more subtle cuts – ones like "Level Up" and the cutesy little "Sight of You" – reveal more about the girl behind the music, they sound much more meandering than the electrified standouts of this record.

With Sucker Punch, Sigrid continues her residence somewhere in the space between the Top 40 and Spotify exclusivity. The deep bass groove of "Never Mine" and the ecstatic vowel runs of "Basic" make them optimal material for dance floors and airplay alike, bolstering the husky voice of a girl who seems as if she would be more comfortable on the floor of an downtown apartment with a webcam and an acoustic guitar than in the studio of any given pop producer. After all, despite being a major label act, she makes it clear that she doesn't want to be seen as such: Standing beside "Don't Kill My Vibe" on the record is "Business Dinners," a bubbly – albeit somewhat gratingly so – track about some sour feelings surrounding her record contract signing.

A functional and enjoyable record, Sucker Punch echoes a young artist who has just as many skills as she does hesitations on what to do with them. While Sigrid doesn't revolutionize pop music, she appeals to a wide audience by remaining nondescript and relatively lighthearted. No matter her subject matter, she livens each track with a club funk, an overloaded chorus, or a saccharine beat -- and some of those tactics work better than others. It's when she really lets loose, which she does often enough on Sucker Punch, that the record truly matches the intensity of its title.

Sucker Punch is available now under Island Records.

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