The world is rose-colored, sweet, and sour in Norwegian pop duo FLTY BRGR GRL’s new music video “Sweet Boy,” premiering today on Kajal. The single comes off the band’s debut album Love You Forever, due for a late September release.
Blending cool bubblegum punk riffs with garage pop, “Sweet Boy” is about unrequited love and crushes that hit dead ends. It’s a hopeful, flirty song that starts with a high but is immediately brought low by reality. As bassist and lead vocalist Namra Beatrix Saleem sings, “He’s a sweet boy, does he even know? I call him every day. He never calls me back.” Meanwhile Sarah Christin Calvert, who provides guitar and back vocals, moodily flips through a magazine, punctuating the girlishness of the song and its subject with adult malaise.
The setting for the video is cozy – a bedroom, bathed in pink light, as the two women go through the motions of a sleepover in matching pajamas. They file their nails and sit around with curlers in their hair. At one point, their pillow fight turns into something harsher, more aggressive as it seems the two really want to hurt each other while the lyrics float above: “Yeah he likes me, I think, he doesn’t know. I’m sure he’ll come around.” It’s harder to believe now that the nameless sweet boy will.
The song is inspired by crushes and being really being into someone, says Saleem. But the lyrics are in a way doubtful, like you’re trying to convince someone or yourself. The angst is palpable, both pining and bruising.
The video’s soft intimacy is due in part, the two say, by the fact that they were surrounded by Calvert’s family as they filmed. While the duo directed and edited the video, Marcus Calvert acted as cinematographer and co-director, Rich Elson provided color grading, and Calvert’s mother Karola Calvert handled lighting. After filming, the band was treated to home-cooked food.
Music like FLTY BRGR GRL’s remains unique in the landscape. In their genre, Saleem says, there aren’t many women of color. Calvert mentions Nida Manzoor’s new British sitcom We Are Lady Parts as a sort of breath of fresh air as it features women in the Muslim punk movement.
When she was in school, playing in bands with her friends, Calvert says, she was the only girl playing instruments.
“All the girls were put down to sing and the guys got to play. I thought that was a bit unfair. I was really stubborn and wanted to play the drums,” Calvert said. “But I feel like that is changing now I see, I work as a music teacher, it’s the opposite. It’s only the girls who play the instruments now.”
“But that’s just at your school,” Saleem counters. “That’s not everywhere.”
There is work to be done to broaden the stage for more people, but the two are dedicated to their DIY approach, injecting a scrappiness into their work. No doubt there will be more girls who follow in their footsteps, not waiting for others to give them permission to make the music they want to hear.