Sissy Wish | Sparkling Nordic Electro-Pop

prof_sissy-wish_sm.gifLittle time is wasted on Sissy Wish’s Beauties Never Die; the album zips by in a flash, and it has a confidence in both the performance and production that gives it real muscle.








There’s something about Nordic electro pop that sounds so, well, exuberant. Alive, engaged, crisp, invigorating. Whether you’re talking about Annie, Royksopp, Flunk or numerous others, Norway and Sweden consistently export some of the finest modern pop music to be found. Put Sissy Wish right up there among the most promising acts to emerge from Norway in the last few years. The band—essentially vocalist Siri Walberg and a couple of ace instrumentalists—have just released their third album, Beauties Never Die, in America (it’s been out in Norway for much longer). And it’s a lively, buoyant set of electronica-laced tunes that should induce smiles in all but the most tone-deaf or joy-impaired listeners. Occasionally recalling the edge and energy of Karen O. or Siouxsie and the Banshees (with a nod to ’80s new-wave hoofers Missing Persons), Walberg brings youthful zest and keen arranging smarts to the ten tracks on Beauties, making, well, tuneful beauties out of all of them.

"I think my music is very much about searching for details," said Walberg , touring extensively to promote the new record. "I´d like to see a song as a journey you want to experience several times. I easily get restless, and I also think that´s got something to do with the temper you find in my songs."

The details Walberg refers to jump from the speakers right away in upbeat songs like "Float" and "DWTS," which has irresistible vocal shout-outs, quirky keyboards and a danceable rhythm among its many charms. She credits her producer Jørgen Træen with many of the unique sonic elements of the recording.

"He is such an inspiration to me," said Walberg. "He really knew how to write my personality down on the paper. ‘DWTS’ was the first song I made for the album, and you can hear it in the energy…it was such a blowout to make this song."

Where a catchy song like "Ya Ya Ya" seems to reflect the influence of its dance-pop predecessors, "Tokyo" contains a more varied musical palette, with that trademark Nordic melancholy subtly blended with dual vocal tracks and leapfrogging keyboards, to wondrous effect. It’s a terrific song.

"Tokyo means a lot to me. I wanted the soundscape to be noisy and the vocal to be a part of the instruments for a change. The melody is pretty simple, but the production makes it really special. It’s a perfect song for the album ’cause it stands out from the other songs and is really lo fi.33"

Little time is wasted on Beauties; the album zips by in a flash, and it has a confidence in both the performance and production that gives it real muscle. And songs like the infectious "Dependence" ought to have young fans dancing their tails off in front of the stage. But Walberg is not apt to be pigeonholed with her music; she likes different styles, and whether it’s rhythm-based electronica or something more simple and musically spare, it’ll reflect her unique aesthetic—one that she says was influenced by artists as diverse as Michael Jackson, Anja Garbarek (a fellow Norwegian), Sonic Youth, Simple Minds, the Specials and PJ Harvey.

"I really don´t know what is my natural preference," said Walberg. "I just want to find the good melody and support it with some nice sounds, and hope my friends like it, too. I´ve had big musical goals, but I realized I don´t want any. I prefer to live in the moment and do what I love, and take everything else with me as a bonus… I think my next album will be even more electronic than Beauties Never Die, mostly because I have managed to detach myself more from the outside world during the making of the album. I’ve managed to create the soundscape on my own."

Walberg hails from a city known for artists specializing in lush and memorable soundscapes: the cultural center known as Bergen. Many a music writer has wondered what kind of magic is in the water there, as countless classic recordings have been produced in the little Norwegian town.

"In my perspective, as I have lived in Bergen for almost seven years now, the music scene here is really one of the best. We are helping each other, instead of tearing each other down. We’re lucky to have art grants, and to have a chance to represent our music without being dependent on anyone else to get it out there. We’re far off Broadway when it comes to the music industry, but we have the freedom to do whatever we want."

That freedom has enabled Walberg to take her music around the world, where fans in different countries are responding energetically to her stellar, driving, poptronica sound. She packs ’em in whenever she goes to Japan, and has gradually built up a potent fan base in the United States, as well.

"The American audiences are really enthusiastic," said Walberg. "I guess that´s why I keep coming back. I’ve been in the U.S. five times the last couple of years trying to get my album released, and now it´s really happening. I think it´s really important to make a connection with the audiences, and I feel like I’ve found it in the U.S." | Kevin Renick

Sissy Wish will perform at Cicero’s on Tues., Oct. 20. Doors 8/show 8:30, $7/$10 under 21. Call 314-862-0009 for more info.

Photos by Stian Andersen.

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