So the general rule is that for 'higher profile' releases we write less because everyone can read far more informed and detailed reviews elsewhere, and I've certainly spotted coverage of the new 'Highasakite' album 'Uranium Heart' in national UK publications such as the Independent. Having said that, it also almost doesn't seem fair to skip through an album which clearly has had so much energy, emotion and passion poured into it - hopefully I can succinctly get into the detail and do it all justice.
So this is 'Highasakite's' 4th album, and the 1st since the band slimmed down to core members Ingrid Helene Håvik and Trond Bersu. And after the sheer scale of the pop ambitions of both 'Camp Echo' this does have a different feel to it - far more personal and reflective. And I can't deny this appeals to me more than the previous releases, which might have been huge achievements in scale and in their success, but they were albums I didn't entirely relate to myself.
There are so many highlights here in a fairly substantial album. Straight from the opening there is a softness in the vocal delivery of 'Too Early', but powerful too, with the intimate lyrics poured out within 10 seconds of the start - 'it's so hard not begging you to stay'. And whilst I normally dislike any bad language in songs, 'I Call Bullshit' appeals to me so much, the preciseness in the way 'Håvik' phrases the words and melody are just a joy each time she sings it. The huge anthemic 'Mexico' is a pretty extraordinary track, the sparseness of instrumentation at the beginning focus attention on those vocals, whilst the chorus is a huge melancholy climax.
'Whilst 'Hail of Bullet's appeals to me less lyrically and musically, 'Egomaniac' is compelling and persuasive, however my favourite track is undeniably the title song' Uranium Heart' itself, with an unconventional (for them) acoustic guitar opening, a strong appealing melody and then the most gorgeous support instrumentation develops with an Americana beat and the subtlest infusion of horn sounds - it's just such a lovely song.
Oh my, this is just such an achievement from 'Ingrid Helene Håvik and Trond Bersu - who has done a particularly great job producing the album. 'Highasakite' have always been a band who I liked and respected, but they weren't entirely my thing. However 'Uranium Heart' is the most powerful of albums, and Havik has squeezed so much of her energy and soul into it's creation. This deserves to be a huge success, and don't forget for UK readers there's a couple of dates at the end of February (inc the brilliant 'Band on the Wall' Manchester), please try and get to see them.
Nordic Music Review 8/10