Yes, this is from last year, but Marit’s finally putting records out in countries other than Norway. Germany, to be precise…
Michaelangelo Matos: Immediate impression: AAA + local musical theater, with a sickly overlay of Disney-resurgence glitter on the gleaming high notes. The odd flourish that finishes the chorus is quirk with no grab.
Anthony Easton: Never done better then by Elton John, and this isn’t even in the same ball park as “Your Song”.
Alfred Soto: Let me get this straight: the Pitchfork generation sneers at Taylor Swift and her fans yet this trifle is worth a second listen because it’s sung by a Norwegian? Larsen’s no Annie, no Robyn. She’s not even Roxette.
Martin Kavka: To those of you who get your Scandinavian Marits confused, this isn’t the Swedish one who released the song (“Adios Amigos”) that The Veronicas have been trying to imitate for years. This is the Norwegian one who was in M2M at the turn of the millennium and, as a solo artist, released the song (“Don’t Save Me”) that, I believe, remains one of the highest-scoring songs in Jukebox history. This isn’t the same propulsive pop as that; it’s too close to the other cute girls who clog our airwaves these days, too made-for-television-montage (the video doesn’t help at all). But the lyric is damn sophisticated. Marit pleads, in song, for her lover to come back; at the same time, she realizes that songs never succeed in fulfilling this aim, and the relationship is irrevocably over. Maybe she’ll kill off all those other cute girls, and Grey’s Anatomy will be renamed The Marit Larsen Show. I’d start watching, then.
W.B. Swygart: The way she pouts “I could try-uh, rock ‘n’ roll” in the chorus makes her sound like Elmo’s long-lost Nordic cousin. The whole enterprise is staggeringly, disgustingly, diabetes-inducingly twee, almost entirely delivered in this creepily infantile smirk of a voice, like she’s absolutely certain that she’s achieved her objective – and what makes it worse is there’s a quality melody busting the hell out here, the production and arrangement are just gorgeous (the guitar swizzles, the little xylophone bit on “Just look at me…”, the wee kick on “here it GOES”), and over the past however many months since The Chase was released I have actually kind of come to like the whole “Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be… an ANDREX PUPPY!” vibe of it all, even if most of the songs on the album dwarf the shit out of it (seriously: “This Is Me, This Is You” would basically rule the world if it were the follow-up). So I’m actually kind of rooting for it now, cos Marit Larsen is, more often than not, entirely capable of being That Damn Good, and if this takes in Germany, then, well, maybe she might be able to see the world in capacities that don’t involve supporting Jason Mraz. And hell, if Germany can take Amy Macdonald to their hearts…
Edward Okulicz: Obviously I am one of Marit Larsen’s biggest boosters in the universe, but even I have to wonder why she’s not launching internationally with her album’s killer radio-destroyer “Ten Steps”, and also why she looks younger in the video than she did when she was in M2M. Not one of her absolute best songs, but a sumptuous arrangement and a likably fluttering melody that makes up for the TWEE OVERLOAD threatening to drag it back to the ground. With the help of the little piano tinkles, and the “Just look at me…” towards the end, she survives – just.
Chuck Eddy: Songwriting about songwriting, and once again she comes about as close to archness as one can without falling off a cliff. The melody conjures up something I overheard over AM radio as a kid, the hiccups are the only real giveaway she’s artsy-fartsy, and as usual with Marit, it won’t leave much of a lasting impression at all. But also as usual, it sounds pretty enough when it’s on to convince me she’s not just showing off.
Martin Skidmore: Her first three singles would be in my top ten (maybe top three) of the last decade, so this is a little disappointing, especially as her first to get promotion beyond her native Norway. But it’s poor only by those standards: it’s not her most incisive or original song, but the tune is sweet and catchy, and her singing is superbly modulated and judged throughout. I hope it’s huge and her astonishingly magnificent first album can come back to a long second life, in a Robyn-esque manner. This perhaps depends on no one seeing the rubbish video…
Alex Ostroff: Marit’s been so hyped in these parts that I’ve subconsciously avoided her output, fearing disappointment. This is elegant and vulnerable and melodic, and if there’s not much depth to it, it doesn’t matter – it’s a simple pleasure. The genre of “songs about writing songs” has become somewhat cliche lately, but this is nonetheless a worthy addition.
Alex Macpherson: A case study in how it takes so much more than a song to get someone: a decent enough pop-country melody crippled to the point of unlistenability by Larsen’s twee, timid mouse of a voice. Her fussy, little-girl affectations would be insufferable in any context, but seems especially inappropriate here, with Larsen promising the moon and the stars and every musical genre under the sun. She shouldn’t make promises she can’t keep.
Ian Mathers: No fair, guys. You know I’m a sucker for songs about struggling to communicate love through music. And yearning. And ABBA.
Fergal O’Reilly: I can understand Marit feeling a bit down at having to retire from football because of a recurring knee injury, but writing this sort of maudlin fluff isn’t gonna help matters.
Anthony Miccio: Nothing about this marzipan suggests she should try rock & roll or the blues, and the lyrical cliches (“house is not a home” and “no time left to lose” in the same verse!) would grate in any genre. Extra point for the last-minute suggestiveness of “I would swallow half the moon.”