22 November 2005

a-ha - "birthright" (from the analogue lp, import available for purchase here.)

in brief : a-ha is so good right now and you don't even know it.

it is our promise here at vs&l that when a-ha releases a new record, we will be right on top of it.

ok, so lifelines was a bust, but don't let that make you forget that "summer moved on" is one of the twenty-or-so best singles of this young century. "birthright" is of similar temperament, but it's far less urgent. (the barometer for these things is the pitch morten harket's falsetto reaches. robert christgau formulated a similar idea about mark e. smith's squeal and the quality of fall records.)

indeed, one could say what "summer moved on" was about, whereas "birthright" presents a number of challenges for the would-be explicator. it matters little, though, when your vocalist can tear into a vowel the way morten does, e.g. the "ee" in "take on me"; the "ay" in "summer moved on"; and now the "oo" in "birthright." twenty years down the line, how does he continue to pull off melancholy so convincingly and w/ such ease? it's easier to envision for types like robert smith and morrissey, but w/ such a voice and such looks as morten harket, it's rather astounding. this is as close to a sigh as pop music gets; in the end, the listener is left gazing out into the middle distance, trying his or her best to look forlorn and world-weary, knowing all along that he or she won't pull it off the way the boys--or should i say men--in a-ha do.

No comments: