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Highasakite – “Camp Echo” Review

Norway's best musical export of 2016

When a band changes sound, sometimes it means a huge upheaval and at times, a bit of an identity crisis. Highasakite had already released several EP’s and two albums in an acoustic folk pop rock style to much acclaim. They had garnered a small but dedicated fan base. Then they return with the dark electro pop “Camp Echo” and their dynamics have shifted.

Immediately from “My Name Is Liar” we are greeted with electronic drums, keyboards a plenty and a lot of weird effects that owe a lot to the euro-dance world. However at the core of things, Highasakite’s song writing hasn’t changed at all. The chorus is razor-sharp. Ingrid’s vocal has a wonderful multinational tone and quality to it and it’s still allowed to shine as she twists and turns her way over the melodies. It’s simply all guitars are now keyboards. Each track is a stonker too. “Samurai Swords” has a mid tempo urgency to it as the drama unfolds in the huge percussion, echoed vocals and the triumphant brass like synth arrangements that evoke a victory on the battlefield. “Someone Who’ll Get It” repeats the title line over again almost as if it’s being drummed into your head. Throughout the album both the lyrics and the instrumentation straddle continents and a haze between anger and controlled uprising. It feels like a protest album in some ways, but the protest is more about us as species waking up rather than being aimed at something specific.

Two of the album favourites “My Mind Is A Bad Neighbourhood” and “I Am My Own Disease” make the middle section of the album a real triumph. The former being a slow unveiling of mindsets under a siren of clashing metallic noise and grungy dance pop and the latter about as close to their original sound as they dare go with explosive chords punctuated with drum rolls and plenty to remind me of the best Nordic pop gems. Each is packed full of lyrical gem, backhanded compliments and snarls of detest. They also allow the band to use their trademark quick for the album – an off-kilter out of tune mini riff or chord freakout between verses or choruses. “Golden Ticket” is pure pop and it’s happy bright indie pop shine is in contrast to the rest of the album which swims in dank festering hate. This is purely because the band are delighted to be getting the golden ticket to escape this world! It pairs perfectly with the speedy and bass freak out heavy “Deep Sea Diver” which veers towards a techno pop track at times but is so gloriously full of sound and energy, it’s a track to pop onto repeat if you ever go to the gym!

At half way and the end, the two ballads puncture the album with tint of previous times. “God Don’t Leave Me” is a beautifully understated as the ringing of an off the hook phone makes for the background for a lonely vocal. The track itself evolves into a wash of sound that feels like a divine intervention is descending from above. It’s a stark contrast to the closing track “Chernobyl” which limps and lingers in pain as its industrial clangs and clanks reverberate around your ears to the cries of Ingrid’s alien like cries that close out the album is a dark tone.

It’s testament that the dark tone permeates the album and yet never overbears it. You can have yourself a dance off about the world ending and feel equally elated as you could depressed at the statements the band makes. As a change of direction, Highasakite show that they can clearly do indie pop at both the acoustic and the electronic ends of the spectrum. Their song craft is superb and this is one of my sleeper hits of 2016.

Recommended Track : I Am My Own Disease

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