Razika: The Guardian's band of the day

See the whole feature in Guardian



New Band Of The Day
Razika (No 1,058)

These four Norwegian girls make a joyous, reggae-influenced racket that recalls ska-pop pioneers the Specials
Hometown: Bergen, Norway.
The lineup: Marie Amdam, Maria Råkil, Marie Moe and Embla Karidotter Dahleng.

The background: How refreshing. An all-girl ska-pop band from Norway. When was the last time we featured one of those? We haven't. Not once in five years. Either Norwegian all-girl ska-pop bands have been thin on the ground since 2006, or we haven't been doing our homework. In which case, please accept our sincerest apologies, especially if we've missed legions of all-girl ska-pop bands (from Norway) as good as Razika.

Razika are four 19-year-olds from Bergen, friends since childhood, who make the sort of joyous racket that 19-year-olds from Birmingham and environs made 30-odd years ago, bands with names such as the Specials, the Selecter and the Beat. They've been compared to reggae-influenced or rhythmically progressive girl groups from the post-punk era but they aren't quite as quirkily inventive as the Raincoats, even if there are moments on their album Program 91 that you could almost imagine being on Odyshape. Nor do you get the sense of them as savage Amazonians caked in mud a la the Slits. This is faithful stuff, pretty straight and unreconstructed, with nice choruses, sweet vocals and a bubblegum bounce. Less tribal than twee.

But that's not to disparage Program 91, which is a fizzy delight, its 11 tracks rattling by in just over half an hour. Marie Amdam switches between English and Norwegian, though it's fairly evident what she's singing about: romance, heartache, the classics. The social consciousness and sense of political engagement crucial to the original 2 Tone scene is absent, replaced instead by longing and ennui. Taste My Dream will be a dream for fans of 1979-80 ska-pop, recalling long-forgotten all-female band the Bodysnatchers, even Bette Bright and the Illuminations, the outfit put together by Suggs of Madness' missus Anne Martin. It sounds really rickety, as though the band are playing at the limit of their abilities, but the vocal and melody are so endearing they more than make up for any instrumental shortcomings. Nytt Pa Nytt is Gangsters by the Specials, while album opener Youth has the zest and zing of Orange Juice, with some of the pips ("You leave me thinking of all your wasted dreams"). The drummer can hardly keep up but you don't think, "Get some lessons", you think, "Aw, cute". She's all over the shop, and it's one selling sweets: think ska meets C86, a cutie take on 2 Tone. Things reach a peak of sugary exuberance on Why We Have to Wait, a cover of a 60s Norwegian pop tune that is adorably ramshackle. And the pace only drops on LP closer Walk in the Park, a dreamily forlorn ballad worthy of Tracey Thorn circa A Distant Shore. Feel like you're ODing on grime and chillwave? Don't watch that, watch this!

The buzz: "They're light and bubbly, a sunnier, poppier take on post-punk like Kleenex/LiLiPUT or Swell Maps" – thefader.com.

The truth: They're too nice to talk to but they're on the radio, or they should be.

Most likely to: Recall the Specials.

Least likely to: Free Nelson Mandela.

What to buy: Program 91 is released on 16 August by Smalltown Supersound.

File next to: Selecter, Bodysnatchers, Bette Bright, Raincoats.

Links: myspace.com/razika.