Four nineteen year-old Norwegian girls make up Razika, a ska heavy indie-pop band who work together as tightly as sisters. And well they should. Lead singer Marie Andam, Maria Rakal, Marie Moe and drummer Embla Dahleng have known one another since the age of six, and have been playing together since they were fourteen.
Named for New Wave Norwegian band Program 81, Razika’s debut album, Program 91, is full of jangly, high-gain retro guitar and concise melodic transitions. The album is roughly half in English and half in Norwegian. Primary songwriter Andam doesn’t utterly surprise with her English lyrics, though she does have some interesting angles. On first track “Youth” Andam sings, “let me share my youth with you tonight…” revealing they are aware of the power of their wee age. They have a practically alchemical combination of burgeoning sexuality, waning innocence, and above all an ear for the musical zeitgeist. Comparisons have been drawn between Razika and Best Coast, Vivian Girls, and Tennis.
The album’s cohesion is no coincidence. Because they were attending school while it was recorded, Program 91 took a year of weekends to complete. Those musicians out there who have saved up their coffers for a marathon recording session would probably agree– maintaining focus for an entire year on a single project is a daunting prospect. However, Razika obviously had a great deal of time to refine their songs, and their youthful zeal no doubt helped.
Although the English lyrics are average, what really drew me in were the songs sung in Norwegian. Norwegian indie isn’t something I hear everyday, and I was delighted by the taut intonation on songs like “Vondt I hjerjet” and “Eg vetsje.” There is also a tasteful retro vibe going on, especially on “Why Have We To Wait,” a cover of a song by fellow Norwegians, 1960s band The Pussycats.
Although I don’t have the proper characters as I type this, a few translations of the song titles are New on New for “Nyt Pa Nytt,” Middle Ages for “Middlealder” and Never for “Aldri.” Razika is currently signed on the Smalltown Supersound label.