A-ha - Analogue

There are two vinyl copies of Hunting High and Low in our house. When I got married, both my wife and me brought this album into the relationship and such was our affection for it, neither could bear to give it up. I am sure there are a lot of people who consider that LP special, a wonderful pop record, as valid a testament to the music the decade as The Queen is Dead. Sure, I talked about my love of New Order in the classroom, but on my Walkman I listened to "Take On Me". But it's not a guilty pleasure - I still whack the title track of that album on many a compilation CD for friends, simply because its a beautiful song.

This is their first album for four years, since 2002's "Lifelines", and their eighth studio album since the heady days of Hunting High and Low. And it is fair to say that this is an album for grown-ups - the band have certainly matured and so has their music. This is still pop, but not something the babysitter is going to want to listen to.

Title track "Analogue" is simply fantastic, one of the greatest songs of the year. The chorus goes through the roof, a wonderful piece of music that shows their great skill at song writing. It is the highlight of the album, a song that deserves huge success and, even if you don't fancy the album, is a worthy download. Album opener "Celice" on the other hand is weaker, but "Don't Do Me Any Favours" and Cosy Prisons" are both good songs, skilfully executed. Morton Harket has a strong voice, and sounds eerily like Paul McCartney on here at times. However, he has a soulful, emotive range, hitting the highs with class. A good example is "Halfway Through the Tour", an excellent song with a wonderful extended instrumental ending that just gets better and better.

The end of the album is strange, as from about "Keeper of the Range" onwards, with its tender piano intro, ever track sounds like "a last track". There are ballads aplenty, but never sickly sweet; these are songs about love and life, the words on the right side of twee. "Make it Soon" is superb, a rocky, fast paced number, leading into "White Dwarf", again excellent. Album closer "The Summers of our Youth" is a song of regret and nostalgia, with some really good words by Magne F.

I was quite surprised to really like this album, but really, why should I have been? A-ha, never fashionable, have proved over the years just how good they are at what they do. It is a strong collection of 13 well-crafted pop songs. A-ha have managed to avoid the pitfalls of sounding old and dated - there is freshness here that deny their 23 years of existence. Instead, they have concentrated on their strengths, and produced an excellent album that deserves to do well.



out of 10

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