Jul 06

Marit Larsen

FT9 comments • 1,481 views

It’s been an unusual few months for me in music listening terms. I’m normally big on variety, skipping from soul to hip hop to pop to punk to reggae from one moment to the next. However, a kind friend gave me over 500 albums early in the year (on DVDrs), and they are three quarters funk, the rest jazz, and I’m three quarters of the way through listening to them, so my music listening has been very dominated by one style. Nonetheless, when I’ve had an hour or less to play some music, I’ve gone back again and again to two singles from this year – there has hardly been a day in the last few months when I haven’t played them at least five times each. They are the two singles by Norwegian pop singer Marit Larsen.

First out was Don’t Save Me, which smashed all previous records for the highest average score on the Stylus singles jukebox (mine was one of the reviews). ABBAesque piano, almost Dylanish harmonica, biting lyrics, an irresistible tune. Tom tells me he will be playing it at Poptimism next week. I loved it pretty immediately, but I seem to love it more with every play.

The second single was Under The Surface. This is a slow number with romantically sweeping violins. Again, when you listen carefully, it’s full of bite and edge – one friend to whom I sent it recently described his reaction to the words as “open-eyed terror”. This one is even more of a grower than the previous one.

So, beautiful pop songs of the highest calibre, but I think the thing that has made them so rewarding for repeated listenings is her singing. Both are beautifully modulated performances, with subtle shifts and pauses and drops that are almost too small for description at times, but carry potent force. The hint of obsessiveness and restrained hysteria in the line “Did you love her the way you love me?” on Under The Surface would be my guess at the moment most likely to induce terror, but both are packed with gems of this sort.

The album has some other terrific tracks too, but although this is the most excited I’ve been by a couple of singles by one act since, I guess, Pulp hit their stride in the early ’90s, I’m doubtful about whether I’ll love her future records. I heard a hint of someone who wants to be an adult singer-songwriter the first time I heard Don’t Save Me, and some googling revealed that her favourite artists and inspirations were Alanis Morrisette and Oasis. I hope she sticks with this gorgeous and sharp pop, but I fear she may become less interesting and loveable rather than more.


  1. 1
    Tom on 24 Jul 2006 #

    I still think Don’t Save Me reminds me (a teeny tiny bit) of XTC!

  2. 2
    Andrew Farrell on 25 Jul 2006 #

    Re: her influences: remember Nelly Furtado’s joy at getting to meet her childhood idol, Noel Gallagher? I do, because it made me feel 3,000 years old. But she turned out alright!

    I must try and wring some XTC recommendations out of someone.

  3. 3
    Martin Skidmore on 25 Jul 2006 #

    The first XTC album is magnificent! I don’t think any of the others are as good, and would settle for the first plus a comp, personally.

    I saw them live once. X-Ray Spex were supposed to be playing but couldn’t show for some reason that I don’t recall, if I knew at the time, so XTC filled in, presumably because they were the next band alphabetically.

    (Actually it was because the club this was at, in XTC’s home town of Swindon, was owned by the band’s manager, and they had some European dates starting days afterwards, so were happy to get a rehearsal gig in.)

  4. 4
    Tom on 25 Jul 2006 #

    DO NOT LISTEN TO MARTIN! The first XTC album is their worst :)

  5. 5
    Intothefireuk on 29 Jul 2006 #

    i’d go for either Skylarking or Oranges & Lemons but NOT the 1st one.

  6. 6
    blablabla on 30 Jul 2006 #

    On her Myspace-profile (myspace.com/maritlarsenofficial) she lists these as her influences:

    Gillian Welch
    Joni Mitchell
    Fiona Apple
    The Beatles
    Ryan Adams
    The Dixie Chicks
    Rufus Wainwright
    Bob Dylan

  7. 7
    michelle on 31 Jul 2006 #

    marit, i was surprised to have known you have a new album now. i’m not really sure how long it’s been released, but i’m from the Philippines, and i wouldn’t have known about your new album ifnot because of the internet. i love it. it’s full of emotions and you really have grown. keep it up, marit. inspire more people and go farther! god bless!

  8. 8
    me on 2 Aug 2006 #

    Are you all overlooking the fact she is climbing out of two already successful music acts?

    she can’t be worse than she is now…. and she’s not bad at all.. so.. look at her music from the past to now.. all she has done is improve

  9. 9
    US Mom of 2 on 12 Oct 2008 #

    What a great find for my play list. (and it’s started with a book swap) Loving “under the surface” being in the US we don’t always get to heard the hard to find energizing heart felt artists from other countries.
    Thanks for this!

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