Pop music will always stand the test of time, that much is true. The styling evolves and the delivery is updated but we can always guarantee that the final product will be engaging. In the classic format, we look to melody and harmonies as the pillars that bind the whole, as if it were their sole purpose to engage the spirits in a sweetly timed, joyous revelry. Now in the age of Beyonce and Christine & the Queens, the pop world looks more diverse than ever and it sounds comparatively assorted. The debut album from Oslo’s Hajk arrives as a polychromatic approach to pop, bridging together the classic and the contemporary in their own special kind of euphonious patchwork.
The lead singles (‘Magazine’, ‘Best Friend’, ‘Common Sense’) are easily spotted, the zesty pop/rock hybrids leap out amongst the nuanced album cuts, telling of a band that has a varied approach to their songcraft. ‘Best Friend’ a particular favourite, wields the infectious immediacy of Alphabeat in their prime but without the pomp. New tracks like ‘My Enemy’ and ‘Flowerdust’ find their flow in a displacement of convention, the latter remains a melancholy but mostly rosy paean to perseverance. ‘I Don’t Remember’ pays critical attention to self-esteem, concerning the fallout of a relationship, Aase tries her best to avoid the inevitable and lingers in a state of self-contracted amnesia.
Continuing the confessionals, ‘Nothing Left To Say’ is a sweet gem of hopeful uncertainty, bass scatters around Andersen’s bashful graces before shooting into testosterone-fuelled riffs that frame electronic sharpness, bringing to the boil Andersen’s relationship concerns. Treading a more minimalist theme as we reach the final steps of the record, ‘Not Anymore’ and ‘Somebody Else’ showcase the vocal talents of both Andersen and Aase to maximum effect, drawing a more singer/songwriter style to the fore referencing the likes of Milo Greene and Stevie Nicks.
The five-piece still find the space to celebrate their individual characteristics without neglecting the collective mission, whether that be the co-vocalists, Sigrid Aase and Preben Sælid Andersen, evocatively intertwined on frontline duties (‘Medicine’) or the solo prominence of a lead vocal with a matching harmony (‘Magazine’), spotlighted synth lines primed by Einar Næss Haugeth (‘Nothing Left To Say’), subtle percussive hints turned bright inflections delivered sparingly by Johan Nord (‘Flowerdust’) and funky bass lifts stealthily maintained by Knut Olav Buverud Sandvik (‘My Enemy’).
On their debut album, Hajk successfully stimulate a ubiquitous variance to the pop genre – sometimes breezy and thoughtful, sometimes thrilling and slow moving, but always inviting and alluring. Hajk will appeal to those with an aptitude for smart-thinking pop (Belle and Sebastian / Grimes), upbeat textured soundscapes (Haim / Aztec Camera) and simple harmonious songwriting (Of Monsters and Men) – or just anyone who loves music with a meaning.
Hajk’s debut self-titled album will be released on 28th April 2017 via JANSEN PLATEPRODUKSJON.