On the day before the last month of the year begins, I’ve undoubtedly concluded that my favourite album of this year is Marit Larsen’s Spark by a fair margin. Long time readers will of course know that I have been a devoted fan of her solo work from day one. Her third album though is utterly captivating, surpassing her already stellar back catalogue.
Marit was playing Taylor Swift’s game before Taylor became perhaps the world’s most admired pop star. Like Taylor, Marit fills her songs with lush instrumentation and sweet melodies that mask cutting lyrics. While it's safe to say that Marit has Taylor’s measure in both songwriting and composition, essentially the Norwegian treads the same ground as her American counterpart, making the former’s lack of success all the more bewildering.
Spark continues in the tradition of both Under The Surface and The Chase with the album's best songs dominated by orchestral arrangements. Longtime fans can also trace Marit's evolution as a songwriter. This is particularly so on the second track of the album, What If?, a love parable, fall of regret and sorrow that perfectly captures the conflicting emotions of intense heartbreak. Similarly, first single Coming Home opens with the brilliant first line. 'I wonder if you know when you kiss me like that, you ruin me for anyone else? Relatable lyrics that paint such evocative pictures are perhaps Marit's trademark.
One of the standout tracks for me is Fine Line, which is both romantic and bitter in the same breath. Indeed the chorus of 'It’s a fine line between love and hate, I’d rather be fighting than losing you babe.' demonstrates this contradiction beautifully. The build up to the last third track is magnificent sending tingles up my spine on each occasion.
Possibly the best track on the album though is Don’t Move, which has a very catchy chorus, a fantastic story that almost borders on a traditional folk tale with a modern twist. It is certainly Marit’s most adept piece of work so far, both sonically and on an emotional level.
The biggest problem with this album is that (so far) the album is unavailable in this country. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m Marit's only Australian fan. If so, this is such a shame. This album deserves to be enjoyed, consumed and appreciated by those who love great pop music.