Be it big names Todd Terje, Röyksopp, Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas, or newer talent like Smerz and SASSY 009, what Norway doesn’t know about hook-heavy electronic music by this point probably isn’t worth learning. Now it’s time to add Otha to the list, because in the space of just over a year, the Norwegian singer/producer has established herself as one of the country’s most promising exports.
Working in collaboration with her Canadian partner, Tyler Johnson, Othalie Husøy makes hands-in-the-air dance-pop that’s as playful as it is disarmingly reflective. She cites Robyn’s album, Body Talk as a big influence, and you can certainly trace the thread back to the Swedish singer, not just in Husøy’s knack for irresistibly melancholic melodies but in her razor-sharp lyrical prowess.
Take, ‘Tired and Sick’, for example. Released in October, it’s a panic attack performed at 130-odd BPM, and possesses pretty much all the year’s best soundbites. Scattered throughout the song, and subject to mantra-like repetition, deadpan refrains include, “‘Cause life is such a mess and this place makes me super stressed”, “I’m biting my nails more than before”, and – most brilliantly – “We’ve got to clean up this shit, this place is packed with pricks.”
Otha’s output isn’t all misanthropic club bangers, though she’s consistently straight-talking. ‘I’m On Top’ contemplates the phenomenon of being too present in your own thoughts to achieve any sort of escapism, and features the killer couplet, “I dance like a queen and I dress like a dream / Oh look at me now, I’m not coming down.” Finally, debut single, ‘One Of The Girls’ is a slice of utopian techno, all dreamy harmonies, celestial synths and positive affirmations, including, “Let your thoughts run free, please don’t think about it.”
Three songs in and we’re already hooked: God only knows how besotted we’ll be this time next year.