Thursday, August 15, 2013

Album Review: Ida Maria - Love Conquers All

Album Rating: C
When speaking about music, Norway is almost synonymous with black metal. Ida Maria is the perfect antonym to the darkness of that connotation. The Norwegian, female indie-rocker fronts her band with the confidence of a veteran, and with only a few albums under her belt, she has made a moderate impression across the globe. Playing a bare-bones style of indie-rock, Maria is a prime example of modern alternative rock. On Love Conquers All though, Maria turns in her rock roots for a more somber and dark approach.

Ida Maria’s first album, Fortress Round My Heart, was an immense success. It had the edge of early Bloc Party, accentuated with the flirtation of pop music. Songs such as “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked,”  made the perfect pop-rock anthems that were missing from stateside indie-rock. Maria’s vocals ranged from sultry, with a hint of rasp, to howling yells, all within one track. Her lyrics were equal parts honest and quirky, and the album was a completely fun experience to listen to. Her followup, Katla, lost a bit of the flair, but was overall a solid release, leaning more towards garage rock. Now on her third album, Ida seems to have gotten herself lost, and can’t find her way back to where she belongs. 

Love Conquers All, while only nine tracks long, meanders through much too many ideas. It never feels like a concise project, but more like a collection of b-sides or unreleased tracks that couldn’t make it on other albums. The lead-off track, “Last Dance,” is classic Ida Maria, with sharp guitar work and her signature vocals, but no other track even comes close to replicating that. The much too short song “Whatever,” has the slightest flash of brilliance that Ida once possessed, but it goes as fast as it came. The slower, brooding cuts (“The Ship,” “Home”) tend to drag the album down into a murky hole, while the title track is an unnecessary mess of noise. 

This isn’t the Ida Maria I fell in love with years ago. The originality and honest music is missing and it’s a bit of a let down to see an artist lose what made them so special. There is always hope that she can churn out another perfect pop-rock album. She might need to hit the bottom to climb to the top.

Track list:
  1. Last Dance
  2. Gigolo
  3. Whatever
  4. Will We Ever Be Friends Again
  5. Nostalgia
  6. Love Conquers All
  7. Home
  8. I Just Need A Hug
  9. The Ship

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