Margaret Berger
Pretty Scary Silver Fairy
2006
B+



how much would you pay per month to check in on Diana Degarmo Being John Malkovich-style? Sure, she’s consistently receiving rave reviews (citation needed) in Hairspray at night—but what does she do during the day? I imagine some Norwegians, at least, feel the same way about their “Idol” runners-up. If they were to check in on Margaret Berger, they might find her sitting in front of a webcam making boring video podcasts. But she might also be listening to Bjork. Or Daft Punk. Or even the Knife.

All of these influences are in abundance on her second album, Pretty Scary Silver Fairy. Her vocals, what won her a record contract in the first place, are gleefully distorted, distended, and generally thrown about on a variety of tracks. But what she’s saying is rarely important anyway (“Have you never ever felt the love like this before,” “You’re the only one who makes me feel a thing,” “If you don’t take control / Put on a show / Get down / Get physical,” etc.). “Samantha,” which somewhat ironically is her biggest single to date, is probably the only track with lyrical content worth explicating. It features Berger pumping up the titular girlfriend to “lift her head up higher,” because what she’s going through will only make her stronger. (Nietzsche would be proud.)

People’ll tell you that “Samantha” is the highlight and they might be right. But, for my money, closer “Have You Never Ever?” is the best thing here. It’s the light to the Knife’s “Like a Pen” dark, employing a steady, bright drum loop and hopeful, yawning synth chords that splay out into the distance. I might even take “Get Physical” over “Samantha” too, but that’s just because it rectifies just about every wrong that Madonna committed with American Life in one fell swoop.

To be honest, though, I’m more into moments—of which Berger provides many. Take, for instance, the end of opener “Silver Fairy” when she tells the engineer to go to the next track or when “Naïve (16)” turns into Bambaataa-electro for about ten seconds. Like Robyn, these quirks are what lift Pretty Scary Silver Fairy out of the morass of most Scandisugarlectropop. That and absolutely immaculate production.

So, right: the moral of the story? Don’t forget your fallen idols. Which reminds me: anyone know what Justin Guarini is up to these days?



Reviewed by: Charles Merwin
Reviewed on: 2007-02-15
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