Sigrid has delivered a knockout blow with Sucker Punch. The 22-year-old’s debut album arrived on Friday (March 8), after more than two years of hype surrounding Norway’s prized pop export. Not that she was just sitting around all that time. “When you think about it, I’ve almost released an album already with all the EPs and all the singles,” she told MTV News via email, referring to “Strangers,” “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” and the slew of other certified hits that have skyrocketed her to superstardom-in-waiting.
Whittled down from around 70 demos, Sucker Punch comprises the best of Sigrid’s catalogue of heart-on-sleeve bangers. Though she admits finalizing the tracklist was a “proper kill your darlings scenario,” the resulting project fulfills her mission of making the music she always wanted to make. “I think 16-year-old me would be really proud right now,” she said, adding that the 12 tracks really live up to the album’s evocative title.
“All of the songs are a bit of sucker punches. They’re all very in-your-face type of songs. No matter if it’s a ballad or up-tempo song, they’re all songs you need to put on full volume,” she explained. “They’re there to be heard; they’re unapologetic and they need to be listened to.”
Fans already know and love the irresistibly dancey “Strangers,” the love-smacked title track, and the searing kiss-off “Don’t Kill My Vibe.” Below, the former MTV Push artist breaks down some of Sucker Punch‘s other highlights. (Remember: Put these suckers on full volume.)
“Basic” has become a descriptor for something boring, average, and monotonous, but Sigrid turns that idea on its head when she sings, “Let’s be real, I’m just saying / If you feel it, don’t cage it / Ooh, I wanna be basic… can I be basic with you?” She explained, “The whole flip side of that song is that you wanna be basic with someone. You wanna do all the cringe stuff; you wanna be cute and all that.”
Written in London a couple years ago, “Basic” was originally conceived as a piano ballad before eventually being bolstered up by booming synths and a brazen “nah nah nah nah” refrain. Still, Sigrid adds an intimate touch when, two-thirds of the way through the song, the production cuts off and you hear only her demo vocals. “I wanted something special towards the end. … It was really fun and very real,” she said.
This punchy track finds Sigrid determined to power through a breakup positively: “Wallowing in it would be such a waste,” she declares through a wry smile. Getting those feelings on paper is admittedly “difficult,” she said, but it was worth it to “get something good out of something bad.”
“I wanted ‘Don’t Feel Like Crying’ to be a fun song,” she said. “I wanted it to be something to distract people from the sad stuff and just dance, and then when they listen to it at a club or a party with their friends, they’ll be like, ‘Woah! This is such a tune.’ But then when they listen to it alone, maybe on their way home from the party or going for a run or just sitting at home on the couch, they’ll be like, ‘Oh, this is actually really sad.’ I love that — when you can get the song to work in different types of environments.”
Clocking in at just under three minutes, this is the shortest and quietest track on the album; you half-expect it to explode into a monstrous sugar-rush hook at some point, but Sigrid purposely kept this one minimal.
“I really wanted to keep that one low-key and no fuss on it. Songs like that are a big part of me and my music taste,” she said of “Level Up,” which was written in just one afternoon and partially inspired by Nick Drake. “It was a nice, brief moment. The intention of the song was to tell something that meant a lot to me and wrap it in a beautiful melody. It was just very natural and really organic.”
“Sight of You”
“Sight of You” sounds like something that could soundtrack the climactic scene of a rom-com, but it’s actually not a romantic love song at all.
“Actually, this is a love song to my band and the people coming to our shows, because I just love touring,” Sigrid said. “There’s especially one festival in Ireland called Electric Picnic that inspired this song to be written. It’s about how you sometimes have to travel a lot to get to these gigs and it can be hard to be away from home but, ‘just the sight of you is getting the best out of me.'”
Describing that central lyric, she continued, “I gotta admit, if I have a bad day, when I just see the band backstage, that sight of them is just the best. They make me really happy. That’s the one sight. The other sight is walking on stage and seeing people go like, ‘rahhhh!’ Like, full-on rage during our set. That is amazing and it means everything to me.”
This raw number has been a staple of Sigrid’s live show for a while now, and the way it builds and morphs from a ballad to a banger is truly something to behold.
“It’s really fun to see people experience ‘In Vain’ live,” she said. “It was important to put it on the record because I know there’s a lot of fans who really like that song and it’s an important part of our set. It’s great to see the audience react to that song and it’s really fun when that beat drops.”
One of the album’s brightest and quirkiest moments is “Business Dinners,” which almost acts like a sequel to “Don’t Kill My Vibe.” “You just want me to be pictures, numbers, figures, I’m just trying to be me,” Sigrid asserts on the bouncy number, giving another middle finger to condescending industry bigwigs.
“‘Business Dinners’ is more general, how it was a bit overwhelming in the beginning with everything happening. This is a song that was written quite early on,” she explained of the synthy, Studio Ghibli-inspired song. “It’s a bit of a sassy track.”
Closing the album with an emotional
gutsucker punch is the tender “Dynamite,” which first appeared on Sigrid’s 2017 debut Don’t Kill My Vibe EP. A heartbreaker of a ballad, it was a fitting finale to a project so near and dear to her heart.
“‘Dynamite’ is such a powerful song. It means so, so, so much to me and it’s always been one of my favorite songs to play live,” she said. “Touring has been such a big part of this album because I’ve been writing it for the past two years and I’ve done shit-tons of things in between, so it’s only natural that the live touring would color it. ‘Dynamite’ has always been a song that’s been close to my heart, I guess. It’s very personal.”
Sucker Punch is out now — stream it in its entirety below.