Amanda Mair is a seventeen-year-old Swede, and she has the fresh sound and looks to make a giant splash with her eponymous debut album. Near the end of 2011, the Swedish Music Industry (comprised of TV personalities and executives, press, radio, record labels and publishers) voted her “Big Breakthrough of 2012,” and a massive buzz about Mair has swept through Sweden (homeland of Abba, Lykke Li, Robyn and Peter, Bjorn & John) in the brief time since.
On her debut (due out June 5 on Labrador Records), Mair crafts more than a handful of superb melodies (co-written with Johan Angergård of Club 8 and Acid House Kings) supported by her masterful touches on piano and addictive synth hooks, and all of it is buffed to a sparkling sheen in the production hands of Philip Ekström from The Mary Onettes. Mair has the skill and pop hooks to make an indelible impression on first listen. The album is ten songs deep and perhaps a bit front-loaded. The strongest half is a thing of true beauty. Songs like “Doubt,” “House,” “Sense” and “Before” would be fairly remarkable for any pop songwriter, but they are unequivocally astounding achievements for a teenager.
Amanda Mair’s sound has received more than a few comparisons to Kate Bush and Dusty Springfield since her first single, “Sense,” received its international release in April. Those comparisons are fitting, but the album, especially with the warm synths, beats, and sleek ’80s-inspired production, calls to mind current indie pop luminaries Feist and Lykke Li. It’s hard to fathom you’re listening to a a teenager at any point of Mair’s debut. A few of the piano ballads (“You’ve Been Here Before,” “Skinnarviksberget”) work in a fairly adolescent lyric here or there, but the juxtaposition of Mair’s vulnerable innocence against her devastating piano melodies make you mostly oblivious to her youth. The intoxicating singles (“Sense,” “House” and “Doubt” and the others to come) mix club-ready rhythms with enchanting vocals mellow enough to fit any nighttime vibe or party.
It seems like every other indie pop review these days makes a reference to soundtracking a John Hughes film (if that comparison is tiresome by now, I apologize for my first use it). Amanda Mair’s debut truly does have all the catchy, synth appeal of a Pretty in Pink house party with beautifully sung, precocious ruminations of teenage romance and relationship drama that sound more than a bit more mature than any equal-age peer could craft. Amanda Mair makes radio-ready songs with every chance to dominate the Top 40. There’s little doubt they will also appeal to the introspective, cool kids too hip for Top 40 radio who simultaneously long for passion, meaningful relationships and nights out with the girls.
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