Dream-like vocals infuse Norwegian group’s debut album

While I might be biased due to my everlasting love for Norwegian pop culture, Anna of the North’s debut album provides unique and gorgeous vocals in addition to modern synth instrumentals. / Courtesy of Flickr

If you have spent more than five minutes around me, you know that I’m obsessed with Norwegian pop culture. Back in December, Nor- way’s iconic television show “Skam” basically ruined my life, and if you haven’t read my review of the series, stop what you’re doing and read it right now! Anyway, “Skam” introduced me to a country that I had never thought much of before, and now one of their rising pop stars, Anna Lotterund of the band Anna of the North, is my new favorite artist.

I actually did not hear about Anna of the North through the magnificent “Skam” soundtrack. While driving around aimlessly in the great state of New Jersey, my friend was playing tracks off of her Spotify playlist.

At a specific moment I can still remember vividly today, this one song came on and I immediately became captivated. I interrupted the conversion and urgently asked what the song was called, and my friend replied that it was “Oslo” by Anna of the North. Of course I loved it, I said to myself. It was a song about Norway.

Upon arriving home, I listened to the artist’s entire discography, which at the time was a handful of singles and a remix by the vomit-inducing group The Chainsmokers. Yet I kept being drawn back to “Oslo.” Anna’s dreamy vocals are incomparable. If you looked up the term electronic dream-pop in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Anna.

“I never wanna leave / I never wanna go. You’re the one that’s in my heart / And it makes me feel at home.” The track makes you picture freezing in a Scandinavian city, but you couldn’t care less because the person you are hopelessly in love with warms your heart. I know that may be the cheesiest sentence I have ever written, but I have no regrets.

After first hearing that insanely beautiful track in March, Anna of the North seems to be everywhere in the music scene and beyond. Lotterund’s dreamy vocals are featured on Tyler the Creator’s stellar album “Flower Boy,” particularly on “911/Mr. Lonely” and “Boredom.” She sings the “Ring, ring, ring” hook on “911” and you can feel her voice and airy presence throughout the rest of the track.

Tyler promoting Anna through the tracks and various tweets has led to an explosion in her popularity, going from about 4,000 followers on Instagram when I first became an avid listener to almost 30,000 in September. Anna is featured in countless music interviews (definitely check out ones with Complex and The Fader), has huge sets in Scandinavian music festivals and has befriended the cast of “Skam,” which has definitely helped her become one of the most popular pop stars in Norway.

Two weeks ago, Anna of the North, which consists of singer Anna Lotterud and bandmate Brady Daniell-Smith, released their debut album, “Lovers.” I will be the first to say that this is not the best album ever created. However, Lotterud’s voice has the capacity to make even the most mediocre instruments sound spectacular.

The 10 songs featured in the debut blend together, but not necessarily in a bad way. It feels as though the group is presenting their sound, which is breezy, electronic pop music, to the world and then retreating 40 minutes later back into their own pop dream landscape. The whole project feels very modern, combining dreamlike sounds with distinct synth instrumentals. You can instantly tell when a song is by Anna of the North, and you don’t forget it.

“Baby” is the only song on the album that was previously released as a solo track. It embodies everything I love about the group, with its characteristic synth instrumentals, drifting pop vocals and heartfelt lyrics. The track opens, “Baby I just wanna know / I need to know if we’re still on. I know we’ve been hurting lately. You see, you came in like a thunderstorm / Electric shivers shooting through my bones. You make my heart start beating in my chest / Baby, hold tight.” It is definitely one of my favorite songs from the artist and would be a great first track to listen to if you really want to understand the sound of Anna of the North.

While I think the song “Lovers” is overshadowed by other promotional singles on the album, it is still a solid track and has a beautiful music video. I know that I’ve basically described everything by this artist as magnificent and beautiful, but it’s true! “Someone” is a much better single and has a faster tempo that really carries Anna’s voice well as she sings, “I’m only human, baby / Need someone to come and save me.”

“Fire” is an absolute jam, and before it was released, I saw a clip of the group closing with it at one of their festival performances. I have a feeling that this will be the track that launches the group into pop stardom. It’s catchy and is the only song that I would say has a Taylor Swift-esque pop music formula that virtually

guarantees a hit. “You were just a fire, adequate pain / Took it all to no return. Blinded by desire, caught up in the flame / Let you in and I got burned.” Channeling heartbreak into a pop hit is what Taylor Swift thrives on, and I hope Anna of the North can have similar success.

I’m so captivated by this group that I already bought tickets to see them in London at a club- like venue this February when I’m studying abroad. I know that if Anna sings “Oslo” I will absolutely lose it, and I hope to get a chance to meet her and ask whether growing up in Norway is actually anything like what “Skam” portrays it to be. Oh, and I guess I’ll ask about her music too.

“Lovers” is an excellent debut album, and I am excited to see what Anna of the North does in future projects to diversify the group’s sound. No matter what it is, I’m sure I won’t be far behind, screaming about Norwegian pop culture to anyone willing to listen…

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