'I'm sorry I haven't broken a rib yet," remarks Ida Maria, the Riot Grrl-esque punk-pop diva and, if you're seduced by the hype, Scandinavia's hottest new export. She is, of course, referring to an incident last year where, while trying to impress a gaggle of booking agents during a gig, she attempted a backwards somersault. It wasn't the first time she had emerged from a show with an injury. Another one ended in a bloody face as she tried to head butt a guitar. Thus Maria, who claims to have grown up wishing she was Iggy Pop, has created a problem for herself. Now her fans want broken bones or their money back.
But right now there is a more pressing problem in the shape of VV Brown, Maria's support act. A clear contender for Winehouse-sized success when her debut album arrives next year, Brown effortlessly sets the room alight with her exuberant blend of blues, doo-wop and Sixties girl-group soul. By the time Maria arrives, the elated crowd has considerably thinned and, in contrast to Brown's sunnily upbeat demeanour, her drunken presence seems clumsy.
On paper, 23-year-old Maria, who hails from the northern reaches of Norway, has all the attributes of an indie rock goddess. Kooky clothes sense? Check. Potty mouth? Check. Predilection for self-harm? Check. Yet somehow the pieces don't quite fit together. She arrives on stage in a pink chiffon dress and smudged make-up like a prom queen after a drunken fumble in the bushes. Her words are slurred, but there are times when you wonder if she's just hamming it up. Despite her best efforts to crack jokes in between songs – there are some suitably tawdry remarks about her newly acquired breasts ("I touch them at night") – Maria seems dislocated, as if she's watching her own performance from elsewhere.
As for the songs, Maria's lyrics hint at a pleasingly caustic wit that with time you imagine could really amount to something. "Morning Light" reveals last night's drunken conquest in the harsh light of day; "Stella" is about a New York prostitute who finds herself with God-like powers. There are, too, occasions where Maria's ear for a punchy arrangement and a memorable hook win out. "Oh My God" is raucous, impassioned and instantly uplifting.
But elsewhere the songs are punk-pop by numbers with Maria wailing interminably over the top. It's a shame, since what indie music needs right now is a woman with charisma. But for Ida Maria, rock'n'roll rebellion doesn't look like fun, it just looks like hard work.
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