Pocketknife, the debut LP by Norwegian indie pop songstress Monica Birkenes (working under the name Mr. Little Jeans), isn't quite as quirky as her Wes Anderson-inspired moniker would suggest. Having found her initial success the new-fashioned way by recording covers of popular songs like Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" (which also appears here on Pocketknife) and Beyoncé's "Single Ladies," both of which racked up the plays on YouTube and SoundCloud, Birkenes used these as a launching pad for her own material, landing tracks on several high-profile movie soundtracks and television shows. Making her full-length debut on Harvest Records, she unveils a set of melodic electro-pop songs that are as frosty as they are sunny. After a stint in London, Birkenes relocated to Los Angeles to write and record Pocketknife, where the Scandinavian cool of tracks like "Haunted" and "Far from Home" were paired with the more temperate indie approach of songs like "Lady Luck" and the cheery youth chorus-infused single "Oh Sailor." Her voice whispers and coos dreamily throughout the album's moodier tracks like "Heaven Sent" and the 11-minute closer, "Valentine," which never quite seem to get off the ground. There is no shortage of young, waif-voiced sirens doling out synth pop pillow talk across the musical landscape and Birkenes fares much better with more creative arrangements, like on the charming opener, "Rescue's Song," with its buoyant piano and staggered, multi-layered harmonies. There are certainly some strong tracks here and it will be interesting to see how Mr. Little Jeans develops, but as a whole, Pocketknife is an uneven debut.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger