The Zodiac, Oxford
24th March 2007
Imagine for a moment, if you will, that you are the impossibly pert pop punk pixie Maja Ivarsson, lead singer of Helsingborg’s The Sounds. Surrounded by your four not-bad-looking-either male bandmates, you’re actually quite happy to be crammed up next to your devoted audience downstairs at the Zodiac; your jaunty synth rock is designed to get under your listeners’ skin, and you’re also quite partial to getting closer to your audience by way of the odd crowd surf. (You’re tiny so nobody’s likely to drop you.) Oxford may be a world away from the New York scenes among which your recent, second album Dying To Tell This To You fits perfectly, but your appeal is pretty international.
Your music mostly has just the right blend of commercial and cool to have attracted celebrity fans like Dave Grohl and Bam Margera (whose wedding reception you recently played at); Tony the Beat is probably the best so far – addictive, catchy and more sophisticated than the rawness of most of your first album, Living in America. The more anthemic Song with a Mission, Painted by Numbers and Queen of Apology come close behind though. Despite demanding the audience’s attention, you’re kind enough to leave guitarist Felix and keyboardist Jesper to do some sweaty electric drumming at the end of Ego.
Comparisons to Blondie are inevitable but flattering, and you might concede that your band is not the most original there has ever been, but who cares? Your magnetic yet dangerous demeanour is such that nobody’s likely to argue with you. Your voice is at times as vulnerable and delicate as that of The Cardigans’ Nina Persson, but you’re leather to Nina’s wool. You’re having fun belting out some great tunes, and the Zodiac is transfixed.
On the evidence of tonight, I think you’d be quite chuffed to be Maja Ivarsson.
From Nightshift, May 2007