Razika seems like a mad indie rock scientist’s too-good-to-be-true creation: a pack of four teenage, Norwegian females turning out jangly indie pop that’ll please every trend jumper (not to mention creepy male groupie) around. The bright, cheery sounds of Best Coast and the surf movement, the punchy rhythms and sweet harmonies of Vivian Girls, and the spot-on ’60s pop sounds of Tennis somehow combine, with all of their rough edges smoothed out to a safe, childproof roundness.
On their new LP Program 91, Razika manages to find the best in the word “inoffensive,” producing an album that is the definition of an easy listen, while also managing not to leave listeners feeling as if their time has been wasted in any way. In that sense, it’s the idealized version of pop music, more inventive and exciting than most material on the radio. From the sugary girl group chords of album opener “Youth” and onward, a pleasant breeze sweeps out of the speakers. This track comes closest to Tennis’ Cape Dory, yet drummer Embla Dahleng’s snappy clacks and lead vocalist Marie Amdam’s coo don’t sound like they’re aping as much as finding the same territory.
“Taste My Dream” drips with a little bit of Specials ska choppiness, and “Nytt Pa Nytt” takes it one step further over the edge, a little wilder, a little bigger, a little bit more ready for skanking. “Above All” has a friendly vibe and a big hook ready to be put up alongside Peter Bjorn and John or some similar picnic-friendly indie rock. “I brought you back where we started,/because you took my heart,” Amdam calls out, just a brief example of the lyrical content Program 91 covers, all-too-familiar territory, sure, but material that Razika manages to pull off nonetheless. Somehow, these 19-year-olds have made so many huge, recent indie accomplishments seem so easy.
Essential Tracks: Youth, Above All