Three years ago, Norway’s Monica Birkenes released a slow-washed re-imagination of Arcade Fire’s ‘The Suburbs’ that sent the internet bananas. Under the moniker Mr Little Jeans, she later teased out ‘Oh Sailor’ and ‘Runaway’, two electronic gems that cultivated a distinct pop persona – a sound equal parts dreamy and dark.
All three tracks have snuck onto Birkenes’ Pocketknife LP, setting the framework for an immaculately crafted debut. Laying out a palette of sounds that includes a toy piano and swirling ’80s synths, Birkenes’ breathy vocals bounce over sharp verses and soar over sing-along choruses.
Opener ‘Rescue Song’ has the adorable hug-me allure that belongs in a Bonds commercial, hinting of ’60s pop influences and manifesting the charm that permeates the album. Melodically spry lead single ‘Good Mistake’ merges rumbling guitar undertones with a light percussive beat as Birkenes muses, “Blood on your hands / And your hands still roam / But your secret is safe with the garden gnome.” Sharp lyricism slices through the cautionary ‘Don’t Run’, a multi-tracked chorus bearing fingerprints of Pocketknife’s production dream team: Tim Anderson and John Hill.
Mr Little Jeans has found the formula to sugary Scandinavian pop without the tacky aftertaste.
Pocketknife is out now on Sony Records.