Sucker Punch falls solidly in the middle of offensive and benign.
A good intro track grabs you from the get-go. It might launch out the gate at breakneck speed, something a la Panic! At the Disco’s “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage” or it may slowly lull you in until it sweeps you away like Beyoncé’s “Pray You Catch Me”. Norwegian pop sensation Sigrid enters the fray with a distinctive intro in the form of “Sucker Punch”, also the title of her debut. A quirky, drum-driven intro, it succeeds in laying out what to expect from this album – Sigrid’s shifting inflection, pounding percussion and candid lyrics.
Sucker Punch arrives amid the trend of “sad pop,” and a bit of the album fits the current moment’s feelings of hopelessness and detachment. Naturally, many acts turn towards apocalypse pop as a means of coping as much as expression. With the world only a super virus or warhead away from ending, relationships feel a bit pointless. After the lovestruck sheen of the title track wears off, “Mine Right Now”, “Basic” and “Strangers” functionally establish Sigrid’s feelings towards her lovers: “It could never be us/ Just you and I” most cleverly and succinctly encapsulates her point.
Like sadness, the ‘80s are also in vogue, evident in the “Escapade”-esque intro of “Don’t Feel Like Crying”. This song alone elevates the album many notches, bringing forth the right emotions in the perfect post-chorus: the sixteenth-note skip of “It hasn’t hit me yet/ And I know if I go home I’m gonna get upset” keeps the track on its feet. For this track and the galloping chorus of “Strangers”, [Sucker Punch deserves praise.
As a vocalist, Sigrid is difficult to pin down. Sometimes she gives you indie pop darling (“Level Up”), at others she gives you husky singer-songwriter (“In Vain”) – in the latter song she gives you both at different points. Though a versatile instrument, her voice fails to truly set her apart in any memorable way.
Otherwise, the record keeps everything relatively straightforward and, in Sigrid’s own words, basic. Now, the term “basic” carries a bit of a negative connotation, but Sucker Punch is basic in the truest sense of the word. It’s a primitive pop record, not by any means bad, just not all that original. Relationships and the act of resisting them comprise most of the album’s themes, with “Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Business Dinners” adding a bit of pointed commentary on haters and the “industry.”
In the end, Sucker Punch falls solidly in the middle of offensive and benign, as if it adhered strictly to the most palatable, inoffensive influences. The line “I wanna be basic/ ’Cause you make me so complicated” arrives early in the record, and might as well come with a spoiler alert.