In a recent interview with Teen Vogue, Norwegian wunderkind Sigrid said she “wants songs with three emotions in one,” layering pop's classic bubblegum softness with feelings of anxiety, hopefulness, and liberation. At only 22 years old, Sigrid has an ironclad grip on her emotions. Named BBC's Sound of 2018, she bounces between emotive peaks and valleys all in the span of a verse on songs like “Strangers” and “Don't Kill My Vibe,” echoing the upbeat catharsis of ABBA—the most iconic Scandinavian crossover group. Sigrid's debut album, Sucker Punch, which she co–wrote and arranged, delivers more of her signature style, exploding with the sentiments and wide–eyed optimism of a girl poised to become pop's next darling.
The album opens with the titular track, “Sucker Punch,” and, true to its name, it leaves you breathless. With an eye for arresting imagery, Sigrid paints the moment of first love with cool indecision and warm addiction. The chorus feels like the pinnacle of a rollercoaster ride, a burst of energy between candid verses. Sigrid's voice, which sounds like Björk's younger sister, is natural and effortless. She’s speechless and afraid and happy all at once. Most notably, however, she's herself.
This authenticity drips over the whole album. “Mine Right Now” tears itself from the dog–eared pages of a journal, encapsulating the fleeting beauty of a fling. Uniquely stamped with Sigrid's pattern of pensive verses and airy choruses, this song, like all the others, sonically captures the moment a bubble bursts. Her voice builds pressure, crescendoing with the certainty of more–seasoned performers, and then pops. Sigrid's a cinematic songwriter, too, putting the listener through a plot teeming with anticipation. With a knack for narration, Sigrid spins yarns to envelope fans in a world where it's just her, them, and an endless array of almost–lovers.
The album's singles don't divert from her brand of bold emotion, either. “Strangers,” which sounds like the kind of breezy bop that soundtracks vlog montages, tells a tragedy you can dance to. A bass–heavy beat sets the backdrop for Sigrid to decimate the notion of a convenient relationship. Lyrics like, “I don't want you, all you want is someone” hit hard despite her voice's soft edges. Meanwhile, “Don't Kill My Vibe,” which claps back at people in the industry who don't value her contribution to the creative process, disguises itself as ballad full of self–doubt. Building against an echo of a drum beat, the song turns into a victorious power banger. Her confidence feels genuine—unlike the commercialized “fempower” of heavyweights like Ariana Grande—and all the more relatable.
Sucker Punch isn't all frenzied excitement and a–ha moments, either. Songs like “Level Up” and “Sight of You” offer a nice respite and are tracks to cherry–pick for times when you crave quiet power. “Level Up” is a cute acoustic ditty about overcoming a relationship's unspoken tension. With the quiet struts of a lullaby, Sigrid's voice is ethereal, lulling all of us into a positive mindset.
And yet, Sucker Punch is at its best when it isn't simple. Thriving off youthful optimism and a penchant for anthems, Sigrid has crafted the break–up song 2019 needs. “Don't Feel Like Crying” is delightfully self–aware and danceable, turning vulnerabilities into bits of confetti. Set against a melody that sparkles with measures of orchestral violins, Sigrid reminds us that sadness is something that can be danced through. She swaps the image of the lonely damsel–in–distress, wallowing in takeout boxes and memories, for one of herself: a woman confident enough to admit her shortcomings and celebrate them.
Pairing the sounds of the Top 40 with the sentiments of an indie album, Sigrid turns pop into a flexible space, where artists can write songs that are big and sad, or small and unabashedly happy. Sucker Punch is exactly what it sounds like—a swift hit to the music industry.