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Mr. Little Jeans

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Don’t let the stage name confuse you: Mr. Little Jeans is actually a Ms., and she doesn’t wear denim all that often. Instead the budding pop star, born Monica Birkenes, took her pseudonym from a character in the movie Rushmore. “You know the Indian guy?” she asks. “The one who does all the Wes Anderson movies? It’s him—that’s his name in the film. He makes me smile every time.”

Finding inspiration in Rushmore is apt considering the Norwegian singer’s own highly stylized sensibilities and quirky charm. She writes polished songs that run the gamut from the seductive to the experimental, each burnished with an electro gloss and, frequently, a sense of whimsy. On her most recent release, the “Rescue Song” EP, she marries the sun-stained pop of the title track—a honeysuckle tune that seems tailor-made for road-trips—with “Valentine,” where heartbeat drums, dirty synths and breathless vocals create an ecstatic sort of anxiety. Her earlier EP, released through New York City indie Neon Gold, offers another set of contrasts: sweet vocals and fuzz-rock guitars (“Angel”); an almost a cappella Beyoncé cover (“Single Ladies”); and the piercing, recriminatory lyrics of “Faking Gold,” where she sings, “Like a song on the radio / on repeat and predictable / come clean / a senior still 17 / can you walk on water?” If that sounds like catharsis, it’s meant to. She’s a fan of big pop hooks, and has a knack for nailing emotions that will resonate with audiences.

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