a-ha

Cast In Steel

(UMC)

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The last album of any sort released by Norwegian pop stars a-ha was, you might remember, a live recording entitled Ending On A High Note: The Final Concert. You might want to listen to their new one, however, before they play the SSE Hydro next March. Album titles, like career plans, should be taken with a pinch of salt.

To be fair, although the aforementioned farewell disc was bookended by The Sun Always Shines On TV and Take On Me, their big hits from 1985 debut Hunting High And Low, a-ha had never really been a lazy fit for those 15-minutes-and-off nostalgia package tours. The trio enjoyed some degree of momentum after a previous reunion in 1998 and, after getting back together in 2014, Cast In Steel is their tenth studio album to date.

If they continued to write dreamy pop classics like the title track and She’s Humming A Tune, I’m sure no one would complain if a-ha went on forever. These two airily delightful tunes provide a lesson for all reality show wannabe: pop music can indeed be simultaneously timeless and of the moment. There aren’t many surprises on offer elsewhere, however, with both the production and Morten Harket’s vocal delivery as uniformly smooth as his curiously unwrinkled skin.

Alan Morrison