The inexorable march of Norwegian five piece Highasakite continues with the release of their second (at least internationally, pendants will no doubt note its their third) album, Camp Echo. Those that fell in love with their frankly astonishing last long player Silent Treatment, which some two years later is still skirting around the charts in their home nation, will breath a sigh of relief that they haven’t lost that knack to write melodies that draw you in, lyrics that pull at your emotions and a style that makes you think that they’re playing this record just for you. Its just that Camp Echo has seen the band tread a more electronic path, opening their minds and those of their listeners to a broader palette. Thankfully, it works.
It’s a record that’s full of icy synth sounds, bubbling percussion and propelling beats. Taking more of a look back for their sound inspiration that whats happening right now, they’ve still managed to blend things and pull things together, not least with Håvik’s rather intoxicating vocal, to make something that still sounds very new.
Opener My name is liar has this soft melancholy about it, as it quietly bubbles and fizzes away in the background, Håvik laying down this incredible vocal performance, somewhere between pop but with just this little whiff of gypsy and eastern about it. As well as bursting with (musical) flavour it lays down a marker of whats to come. Follow on Samurai sounds follows on in similar veins, the clicking and tumbling accompaniment contrasted with the sweeping melodies that wash over it.
‘Someone who’ll get it’ follows and proves itself to be, melodically at least, one of the albums real highlights. It has this slightly eerie, wonky backing, the synth line almost falling away here and there, while these ghostly sweeps of vocal prod at the melody, as melancholy and pining as anything on the album. My mind is a bad Neighborhood gives us an insight into the dark thoughts that purvey the records, certainly more than its predecessor, while there are various nods to 90’s house/pop in the music. God don’t leave me reinforces the mindset, but the setting is almost hymnal, large blocks of vocal harmony working almost in juxtoposition with eachother, leaving only the sparcest of backings, before arrowing towards the heart with this emotive synth tune when the voices break.
I am my own disease sees Håvik and the band more bullish, more….optimistic, certainly in terms of the musics determined propulsion and drive, sounding more matter of fact than many of its predecessors, all wrapped up in layers of synths. As the album moves towards its final hand (tracks 8&9 of 9) the band hold nothing back. Deep Sea Diver is this beguiling, continually morphing and unraveling slice of perfect pop, while album closer Chernobyl features a gasping, still accompaniment over Håvik incredible vocal performance. Its worth the price of the record on its own.
The sound may have changed Highasakite’s new record Camp Echo, but something are still the same – Håvik’s fantastic vocals, a sense of melody that catches you off guard and an ambition and twinkle in the eye of the arrangements that catches you off balance. More than that thoug, the band have an ability to move you like not many bands can. And I’m a sucker for that.