I am speechless. Sophia Somajo...Is out of this world. Her first album, The Laptop Diaries, is up there with the pop greats. I am quite surprised she hasn't made the mainstream yet. So, this review is mainly about screaming her name to the highest mountain top. Let me say it again: Sophia Somajo is amazing! She is so good. You get really good pop albums. And then you get absolutely stunning albums. Sophia has elements of Robyn (mainly Be Mine and Handle Me), PayTV (the electro wittiness), music from Disney, wrapped around Sophia's glorious synthpop tablets. Ladies of electropop: Robyn, Lights, Isabel, Margaret Berger, Sally Shapiro, Little Boots, Annie, Lady Gaga, Lights, Roisin, Rosanna, Antigone...Sophia's album completely and utterly raises the bar. This is the girl to beat. It is her standard that the 2009 releases will have to jump up too. She shakes the electropop tree and doesn't merely wait to see what lands on the grass but eats up all the fruit the tree produces. She is the tree. I can't overstate how amazing this particular Swedish singer is. Here be a small review of each track:
Stockholm Calling: This is about Sweden. "This is a story about people who live igloos". Indeed. This is also a tribute to ABBA (who actually feature in the video!). Alcazar did something like this on their recent album (Thank You). Sophia Somajo was one step ahead of the game. This sounds like a march. A celebration of everything she loves about Stockholm and Sweden. Completely fabulous. See Official Video here
Girl Like Me: Wow. This is stunning. I am hoping that Isabel/Robyn's new albums will sound a bit like this. Girl Like Me pulsates brilliances. "Girls Like Me don't grow on trees". Oh yes. Its hard to compare this to anything else. Perhaps Kylie's Speakerphone mixed in with Robyn's Handle Me. Besides comparisons, by this track the listener really gets a sense of what Sophia is primarily about-she is a pop revolutionary. The only way completely enjoy the ride is sit back let her electronic wares wash over you. Amaaaaaaaaaazing.
Warm Blooded Murder-My Loss: Think Sugababes back when they were really edgy. Warm Blooded Murder-My Loss is a bit dangerous. This is the first of many dance tracks on the album. Proving that Swedish music doesn't have to be about too eclectic (see Lykke Li) or dry (Adiam Dymott), Sophia provides a massive bad-ass chorus of sounds that chill the bone whilst simultaneously securing you get on the stage. The end is fabulous. See Official Video Here
Game Over Gambler: Lady GaGa is amazing. But the biggest critique is that all her music starts to slide into each other. Game Over Gambler strikes out from previously heard tracks and provides another side to the "poker-face" metaphor.
I-rony: Okay, now this is amazing. The message of this song is similar "About You Now" by the Sugababes but sounds more American retro electro rnb retro. If that makes any sense. Yes, this is the big single. The baseline is very Lil Kim but don't let that dissuade you from the song. Sophia dabbles with urban music and when she does its more Pussy Cat Dolls than Victoria Beckham. Watch out for the swearwords on this. This was the song that introduced me to Sophia Somajo so it holds a special place in my heart. Its a song that Robyn would love to have as her comeback single. Amazing. See Official Video Here
Somebody New (Feat.Juvelen) - Dry Eye For The Guy: Awwwww! Juvelen! He first appeared on Dontstopthepop 3 years ago! This was released as a single and featured Juvelen acting out as Julia Roberts (from Pretty Woman) and Sophia dragging up as Richard Gere. & don't they look fab. The song is a drippy poppy slice of wonderfulness. The type one would expect from the likes of Sophia and Juvelen. Certainly a highlight of the album. Dry Eye For The Guy is a mini track attached to Somebody New. A neat ending to a love story. Perhaps her version of the gay anthem Lets Hear It for the Boy.
Fighters: Wow. "His music is ringing in my ears". This song is epic. Edges towards polemic. Sophia explores sounds and manages to bring out some very interesting pictures and narratives. So much so one finds that they can't keep up with the relentless of pop brilliance. It saddens me that this album has picked up the energy that it really deserves. A quick scan online reveals very little exposure. I hope that's about this change. Some might compare her to M.I.A or Ladyhawke. Personally, though I think she is a lot better only because she has pop melodies right at the root of her music.
Cinnamon Girl-Beg n' Crawl: This is a journey into synth heaven. Sophia actually sounds, vocally, a lot like Robyn on Cinnamon Girl. But the singers are quite distinct. Robyn is a very structured songwriter. Sophia is more experimental. This is a smooth electro ballad that warms the soul. Sophia is in love and she doesn't believe it. She describes that sunday morning feeling when the loved one bakes breakfast. Yummy. In a state of grace, glorious mess and dream like utopia: Cinnamon Girl unpicks the moments of delirious love. Beg 'n' Crawl is the additional track at the end of Cinnamon Girl. Again, it sounds like a conclusion to the falling love episode she describes in Cinnamon Girl. Again, utterly amazing.
The Proposition-Elevator Dialouge: This is a bouncy electro rnb number but it stands out as the only guitar based track on the album. Completely different to the rest of her stuff on Laptop Diaries, The Proposition is a more traditional pop track. It could easily be on Robyn's last album. When The Proposition is over, a beautiful track emerges. This is Sophia's intimate moment. "Absense is louder than its presence". Indeed. Elevator is a hybrid sound between soul and electropop. If you love the sound of Imogen Heap and the general works of Guy Sigsworth/Craig Armstrong you'll really like Sophia and in particular this song.
Stepmonster: This tablet is a very intimate song that a review on a mere blog can't quite convey how good it is. This track is incredibly dark, sinister and yet beautiful all at the same time. Herein, Sophia reads out some out parts of her diary that you kinda wish she'd kept to herself. But wow, major kudos for allowing herself go so deep and allowing the listener enter the household.
So-Mojo: The first track initially kicks with the wonderful line "Hey, I am an alien just like Sting in New York". Yes, Sophia is an oddity and if Alesha Dixon went wild in the recording studio you'd perhaps get the gist of what So and Laptop Diaries sounds like. Mojo is a brilliant electric "message" that sends a few shivers down the spine. This is a journey through fabricated moog sounds that one cannot refute its brilliance. David Bowie would be incredibly jealous of this album. At the heart of this highly artistic and unique album is a sense of pop and fun. This track mirrors this feeling. Sometimes ubercool records can leave you cold. Not so with Sophia and the LapTop Diaries.
Space Traveler: Okay, this isn't on the album but it is on the Myspace. I think it will be released soon as its irrestibly catchy. It has the bounce of a PWL record. If you like the Canadian electro singer Lights you'll really dig Sophia and especially Space Traveler. For me, this track sums everything that I love about Sophia Somajo. She puts catchy pop at the centre of her music. Sometimes rather odd, Sophia never looses the attention of the listener. This is pop ladies and gentlemen but like nothing we've heard before....