The story about 24-year-old Norwegian newcomer Ida Maria is that she hassynesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that causes her to see colors when she hears music. Though her geographic origin combined with the old sensitive-girl-with-a-guitar stereotype might suggest an album of icy blues or mellow yellows, her debut, Fortress Round My Heart, actually draws from a much more fiery sonic palette. The album-opener, “Oh My God,” blasts out of the gates, crescendoing into a blistering, punk-tinged tirade highlighted by Maria’s raspy voice and convincing wails.
The rest of Fortress never recaptures the energy of its exhilarating first three and a half minutes, but Maria still manages to craft an intriguing, delightful album out of sentiments born from drunken regret and a broken heart. Her unexpectedly mature, raspy vocals lend some authenticity to her young screeds, though she mainly keeps things upbeat and poppy, as on the exuberant, ska-tinged “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked.” In fact, the album only has two full-fledged ballads, and while they don’t burst with the same life as the rest of the record, they showcase the songwriting and performance chops that should earn Maria a notable career beyond this impressive debut.