I've had "Hunting High and Low" for over 20 years, but it was only listening to it again recently that I consciously realised just how good it really is.
What's great is that it manages to fit way more depth, intelligence and atmosphere into the 80s synthpop mould than you'd expect, yet still remains a fantastic pop album.
"Take On Me" may be the best-known song here (in part because it was their only major American hit). It's a good song, but possibly overplayed at the expense of the real masterpiece at the heart of the album, "The Sun Always Shines on TV"- a UK number one, and deservedly so.
The most generic 80s track here is "Love is Reason"- actually quite decent in its own right, but this simply highlights the fact that most of the other non-single songs are way better than the filler you'd expect from a debut album. I mean, "Living a Boy's Adventure Tale" is brilliant.
Morten Harket's singing is one very obvious reason for this album being a cut above the typical 80s synthpop offerings, but not the only one; aside from the songs, there are also some nice touches with the arrangements, like the clarinet in "Living a Boy's Aventure Tale" or the voices and strings in the middle of "I Dream Myself Alive".
Better than you'd have any right to expect from a debut, Hunting High and Low may be pop, but it's certainly not disposable, and it still sounds great over 20 years later.