A very recent release from these Norwegian pop stars called Cast in Steel comes as a bit of surprise as A-ha reunited again to produce their 10th studio album.
Their music has always been a part of the mainstream pop, and on this album they remained true to themselves. But you can forger the times of “Take on Me” like hits, you won’t find that for quite some time in their music making.
What you can expect from this album is a collection of ballads as Cast in Steel is all about the great emotions, diving into nostalgia, feelings of love and loss.
“Cast in Steel” is an opening track, an easy flowing pop song, carried out by orchestral arrangements. You may perceive it as a bit simple or banal piece, as it offers simplicity in melody and lyrics, but the second track “Under the Makeup” gets a lot heavier and changes the mood, as it is painted with nostalgia. It is a track that really gets to the depths of your own emotional experiences. Even though I am not so thrilled with the chorus, the rest is quite superb, again great orchestral arrangements and Morten’s voice is more prominent on this one.
“The Wake” is all about love; if you are a romantic, you may like this one. It is atmospheric but they bring in a bit of beat in it, so even though it has that feeling of sadness in melody, it is in fact an uplifting song. “Forest Fire” offers more of the dance feel, and in some parts you can recognize a peace of an old A-ha sound, but just for a moment, then chorus takes you to the present date.
Nostalgia is present again in “Objects in the Mirror”. It is a slower track gain, and even though it has all the right components to make it a good song, I can not escape the feeling that there is too much of the sweetness in the chorus. And so far, I feel each song fail to produce a chorus with enough statement for my liking. But I take back that statement for “Door Ajar” as this one hits me at the right spot with it’s chorus. It quite resembles the material from their previous album, but lyrically it belongs to this one, as it speaks of love nostalgia again. “Living at the End of the World” is another song very characteristic for this album, emotionally painted, great arrangements but again weaker in the chorus. “Mythomania” offers more of the synth pop that we were used to in their older work. “She’s Humming a Tune” is personally my favourite, a bit darker than the rest of the songs, and a really great chorus, something I expect from this band, but was kinda lost on this album. As I find the second half of the album a bit stronger and with more character, another song “Shadow Endeavours” has a lot to offer musically as it is a bit more complex in melody that I found some of the songs miss. “Giving Up the Ghost” again reflects upon love nostalgia, as this album seems to be devoted to the broken hearts. This song is more energetic than the rest, firm beat and again great orchestral arrangements, with some unusual melodic twists. A slow one for the end, “Goodbye Thompson”. I can not say that it is all that new and innovative, and it is surely a bit weaker than the previous few, both musically and lyrically. Overall, this album is not such a come back as I would have expected from this brilliant pop trio but it still is interesting enough to be on your menu.