There are some bands that you just never out-grow. They stay with you for life. Regardless of what others may think, you stay true to your bands for whatever reason.
So it is with a-ha and me. One of the first tapes I bought was their Hunting High and Low release from 1985. Really, I only bought it for “The Sun Always Shines on TV,” but I quickly started listening to the whole thing.
Because I enjoyed their first offering so much, when Scoundrel Days was released in 1986, I figured it had to be pretty good, so why not give it a shot. On the strength of HHaL and their first single from SD (“Cry Wolf”), I went to my local music store and bought it. Same style of typical 80s synth-pop, but SD seemed to have a different feel to it. I don’t know … maybe “meloncholy” is the right word. It’s a great listen.
Time marched on, I started listening to different music, like Van Halen, The Cult, Rush, Led Zeppelin … stuff like that. Meanwhile, Norway’s best-kept musical offering kept marching on. They released Stay on These Road, East of the Sun West of the Moon, and Memorial Beach between 1988 and 1993. I had known about SoTR, but I never picked it up. Not even recording the newest Bond film title track (“The Living Daylights”) got me to purchase it.
My roommate in college and now brother in law has been into them for a number of years. Through him, I actually discovered that they had 3 additional CDs between 2000 and 2005 – Minor Earth Major Sky, Lifelines and Analogue respectively. I tried listening to all 3 of them. Not bad recordings … just not my cup of tea. My problem with them was that I wanted them to sound like 1985. That doesn’t work.
Until they released Foot of the Mountain last year. A full return to their original synth-pop roots. And it totally works. The first track on their newest CD, “The Bandstand,” has a great keyboard sound to it. Extremely catchy, easy to hum and remember. But in the background is layered some subtle bass lines that keep the track flowing nicely. There are also some strings that I’m sure are born of another midi keyboard, but whatever. The drums sound processed as well, if not programmed. Again, whatever.
The amazing thing to me is that Morton (lead singer), sounds the same now as he did 25 years ago. If you mixed tracks from HHaL with FotM, you’d be hard pressed to separate which tracks are from which CD without prior knowledge. It’s really impressive.