Ida Maria

Fortress Round My Heart

When did female artists become duty-bound to share psychological trauma? It feels at the moment that, whereas a man can just get on with the simple business of being a rock star, if you’re a girl and want to do anything other than heartbreak pop, you’re obliged to run emotionally naked round an indie-rock therapy session, pouring out your broken soul. This confessional torrent is the gift and curse of 23-year-old scuzz-rock vamp Ida Maria Sivertsen. She’s great, but Lord, it’s heavy-going.

Having grown up in the remote norse town of Nesna, she rebelled against a classical upbringing with rock’n’roll, decamped to Sweden and has been leaving a trail of blood and booze in her wake ever since. Sivertsen suffers from synaesthesia, a sensory condition that makes her experience sensations together, rather than separately. The wonderful consequence for her is that when she hears music, she sees colours. Amazing, surely?

Whatever, she makes breakneck amphetamine garage with the drama of early PJ Harvey and the glamour of Dita Von Teese. Heady stuff, but ultimately, more conventional than it and everyone around it seems to think it is. Stopping just short of squeaking, “I’m bonkers, me!”, ‘Queen Of The World’ boasts the line “I’m queen of the world/I bump into things!/I spin round in circles!” And the rest of ‘Fortress Round My Heart’ is a journey into the zany soul of this self-styled warrior princess of kook rock.

The deranged booty call that is ‘I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked’ makes sex sound like a desperate pagan ritual. ‘Oh My God’ makes boozing sound less like a fun past-time than, well, a desperate pagan ritual. By the time things turn to God, on ‘Stella’, He’s having sex with the titular character while, erm, drunk (and that’s not the oddest thing about the song, but the fact that it’s a direct lift from ‘Jimmy Mack’ by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas). Ida veers between these three themes with mostly impressive results.

Things only come unstuck when she wriggles in self-pitying throes of ‘Keep Me Warm’, by which time she’s even finding existential crisis in the act of lying in bed. You do have to wonder how she deals with, say, doing the hoovering. It all gets a bit much, which is a shame, because she is a rare, edgy talent. Just one who isn’t anywhere near as kerrrrrrazy as she thinks she is.

Dan Martin