on 8 August 2009
Others have said what I felt initially that this album was pleasant but it maybe didn't have the 'WOW' factor of say "Take On Me" or "The Sun Always Shines On TV". They are probably kicking themselves now (if they have not just abandoned it after one or two listenings) for judging it too soon.
Like making love, there are many different ways to get one tingling. Some songs have an immediate impact while others like those on this album take their time. With each play they build up and up and up - to incredible! I listened again and again and they just got better and better. The more I listened the more I found there was to hear and the more they reached deep into my soul. I now find myself saying things like "oh my goodness" (or words to that effect!) whenever I play them.
In a nutshell, this album is absolutely gloriously brilliant. All the tracks are beautiful, mostly haunting and, as you will have realized by now, push all my sensitive buttons. If I had to choose one track it would currently be 'What There Is' - it makes me well up with a huge feeling of elation.
I've seen other reviews comparing this album to the work of A-Ha across the past 25 years and the reception has been mixed. I feel that I am at an advantage in that for me A-Ha has only existed for a few months in my life. I have listened to their best in the here and now not passing through 25 years of my own life. I don't have memories attached to a particular song to conjure up nostalgic moments. And, I can honestly say that not one is dated - they could have been recorded in 2009 - not 1984 onwards. There are many wonderful and talented performers out there but none have impressed me as A-Ha have since my days of growing up in the aura of the Beatles.
on 1 October 2009
I've loved A-ha from Day One. True, many of their albums have the odd duff tracks (Company Man, Between Your Mama..., Halfway Through The Tour etc) but this one doesn't! It's simply so great that they're still recording and producing real quality music nearly a quarter of a century after Hunting High And Low. This album is quite superb, the title track is brilliant, not a duff track on the album. The Bandstand is a personal favourite, love the return to the synth-based sound, even though I still also adore the more guitar based albums (Memorial Beach, East Of The Sun etc) Really chuffed that the album got into the Top 10, the group really deserve some praise for their work. To any new listeners give the album a try and then try their back catalogue, they're so much more than the band that did Take On Me and that video (not that I don't love that as well!) Sorry to sound so gushing but in my opinion these guys have been, and still are, the most perfect pop group around. Long may they continue recording...! On top of all this the album artwork is absolutely brilliant!...great group, great album, give them the credit they deserve. The solo stuff is brilliant as well, Magne's and Morten's solo stuff is lovely (just listen to Los Angeles on Morten Harket's solo album Wild Seed). Check out Pal's stuff with his group Savoy, it's really brilliant.
on 8 June 2009
Foot of the mountain sees A-ha return to the roots and produce a master-class in 80's synth laden pop, resulting in their finest album since their comeback in 2000, and arguably the finest of their 25 year career.
The album kicks off with Bandstand, an outstanding track that has a distinct Kraftwerk sound whilst remaining quintessentially a-ha. It is an excellent opener and sets the tone of the album perfectly.
Riding the Crest follows, a track that will be familiar to those who attended the RAH concert in May 2008, or to those who have listened to the YouTube concert clips. If you have heard the live versions, you may be disappointed as the album versions of Riding the Crest and Shadowside both lack the dynamism of their live performances. Don't get me wrong, they are still excellent songs, even with the somewhat subdued production, however the live performances showed that they have the potential to be epic. I suspect that the production of these two songs have been made to fit into the album as a whole and that single remixes will be done at a later stage, if they follow the live versions, expect them to be massive hits. These are minor criticisms, although as it stands, it looks like a spectacular own goal.
What there is, was premiered at the Brazil concerts earlier this year and fan reactions were mixed, this probably stemmed from the spectacular computer programming problems. The album version of What there is, is an entirely different affair, brilliant, a song that has the laid back vibe and sophistication of a Daniel Craig bond film theme song.
Foot of the mountain is the first single to come of the album, and well it fits nicely enough without being groundbreaking, a song so deeply ingrained in the sound of Keane that it almost fails to be a-ha, until of course Morten's vocals soar into the ether. I should state at this point that Morten seems to have regained his voice, a magnificent instrument in itself but sadly underutilised in their recent comeback albums.
And then there are the album tracks, normally a weakness for a-ha (maybe maybe, and you tell me, the way we talk); the album tracks on this album are excellent. I am convinced that the backing to `Nothings keeping you here' is essentially the backing to Nilsson's `Everybody's talking', however the similarity is limited to the riff and the song provides a real energy to the album.
The Real Meaning is a song that is atypical a-ha, looping keyboard riff, other worldly effects and the soothing tones of Morten's vocal to a heartfelt lyric.
Mother Nature goes to heaven has a slightly rockier edge, coupled with a background riff from the sun always shines on tv it's a guilty pleasure.
Sunny Mystery would not look out of place on the last Coldplay album, the song builds and builds, ebbing and flowing to the soaring chorus. In many ways this feels less at home on the album than any of the other songs, but it is a worthy inclusion none the same.
Start the Stimulator is a slow building epic end to the album, a lovelorn song to times past and acceptance. Pal Waaktaar is perhaps the world's most underrated songwriter, with this song he has created another masterpiece.
All in all, not just an excellent a-ha album, an excellent album full stop, and if Ladyhawke, Bat for Lashes, Keane and Coldplay can be successful copying the a-ha trademark sound, then a-ha deserve to reclaim their UK success with the Foot of Mountain.
on 20 May 2013
Foot of the mountain is the ninth and final studio album by Norwegian trio A-ha. It was released June 2009 and follows 4 years after their comeback album Analogue. With the band knowing this would be their final album, it seems to me that they tried to create a sound which would please the old fans, with the style being somewhat reminiscent of the 1st 3 albums and the closest to the earlier material than any of the albums up to now. They also were catering to new fans and were fitting in with pop acts in the charts at the time, because electronic music was at the top of the charts when this was released with acts like La Rue. The electro sound is reminiscent of the synth pop of old but it isn't like the early albums at all. This is not synth pop it is electro, which is quite different. This is a much more updated sound which fits in with modern music and chart sales. I don't believe the band were trying to relive the glory days at all, they were just giving us a taste of what was so great about them back then and were going out with a sound the band would want to me remembered for. Magne describes the album; "It's an album that incorporates the key elements that first defined the band: soaring vocals, synth hooks, yearning lyrics and melodic melancholia". It is the band trying to be at their best and going out on a high and what they do is done very impressively.
Foot of the mountain was a pleasant surprise for me as the 1st single and probably the strongest, best song on the album. The piano intro is brilliant and leads us into a great pop song with a powerful chorus with amazing, soaring vocals from 1 of the greatest of all time Morten Harket. The song is about the madness of modern life and getting back in touch with nature. The album artwork has a unique quality to it with its cartoon feel with differing sized shapes and colours and nature display throughout the booklet, inspired by the title single. The album is 10 tracks long which is reminiscent of the first 3 albums, which this style is compared to.
The bandstand begins with beeping, keyboard sounds into a mid-tempo electro track. It's a very mellow sound with a great chorus. Lyrically I enjoy this too and it takes me to the bandstand on the pier of a local seaside town and sparks up nostalgia. It has a romantic, affectionate quality to it which is very easy to listen to. Riding the crest is much faster with a fast beat and catchy chorus with decent vocals, which is certainly suitable for it becoming the single. What there is - a slower mid-tempo track again with lower vocals at the verse which leads up to a higher pitched chorus with a very pleasant sound. Towards the end there is a moodier feel with low vocals in the background over the chorus. Foot of the mountain is the standout track. Real meaning has a twangy sounding synth with a romantic feeling at the chorus and feelings of hurt and despair in the verses.
Shadowside is 1 of the best on the album with an atmospheric, moody feel to it with Morten singing about how he doesn't want to go back to a darker side which is ruining his relationship. The chorus is really strong and has the type of power to it which takes you somewhere else. There are some proper high pitched vocals from Morten when he takes it up a key towards the end showing off his talents. This is the 2nd longest on the album at 4:55 but it doesn't feel dragged out, just atmospheric with the strings nearing the end. Nothing is keeping you here is another decent song about the need to move on. It's got attractive, soft feeling lyrics relating to nature and details about everyday life. Mother nature starts with a pounding bass line and then has a Chinese sounding synth. It's really upbeat and fun to listen to and lyrically interesting too. Sunny mystery is penned by Magne Furuholmen and is a significant, interesting track. It starts of with just Morten singing and then Magne provides backing vocals from the 2nd verse which immediately gives it a different sound to the rest. Start the simulator is an experimental song and tops off at 5:17. It has a soft feel to it after the twangy intro. Paul wanted to make a heartfelt song with technical language, inspired by the Apollo space programme. What Paul set out to do he achieved and maybe some people will embrace this experimental, different sound and side but I am not a fan. It's the worst song on the album which is pretty boring to listen to. I love a good mellow track but this doesn't keep me exactly engrossed throughout. I guess I do have respect for this song and understand the need to experiment but it doesn't work for me.
Paul had voiced his frustration years before this album had been released about how the band could rarely meet to share and record their ideas as they were all working on different projects, and when Paul was ready the other guys hadn't been. Paul is the main songwriter for the album with 4 songs being solo written by him and 5 being co-written. The album does have that classic A-ha sound to it and as Magne said it has those yearning lyrics, a lonely feel and melancholy as well as some very impressive vocals. This is what the fans wanted and I am pleased as a fan with this album but there's something about it which doesn't share the magic of the earlier material and the nostalgic feel the music created on this album doesn't quite live up to what this band once were.
on 11 September 2009
I've enjoyed all of a-ha's albums and the evolution of their sound over time. However, as a fan of electronic pop music, I always loved the sound of their first album. This latest release from a-ha is mature yet with some familiar sounds from their early days, so it makes for a great creation--a mix of the old and the new. I would like to see more albums like this from the group!
on 18 September 2009
What a fantastic album. From beginning to end every track is an absolute killer with no sign of any filler tracks.
I received this album for my birthday on 17th September, (this review was written on 18th September) and during that short space of time I think I have played the album more than 20 times.
I hated their previous album, analogue which was more guitar orientated, which just did not convince or inspire me at all.
My favourite tracks on this album are : The Bandstand, Riding the crest, Sunny Mystery, What there is, and Foot of the Mountain.
If you liked the sound of the early A-ha, such as Hunting High and Low, Scoundrel Days and Stay on these Roads albums then this is for you.
It's a cracker of an album, please go and buy it!!!!!!!
on 30 August 2009
Love this new one.I really love track 2 and track 7....I have always liked A-ha they seem to be doing better and better as time has gone on...Long may they contine..
Four years after their surprising and glorious comeback with 'Analogue', A-Ha returned with their ninth and final album 'Foot Of The Mountain' in the summer of 2009.
I confess, I did have to let it grow on me first. After such a dramatic, but welcome change of sound that was 'Analogue' (which sounded just as fresh as the latest Coldplay album), I wasn't sure of the overall sound of this, which is essentially a return to the synthpop style that the band became so famous for in the mid-1980s. It helped them have big hits with 'Take on Me' and 'The Sun Always Shines on TV', two of the most recognisable pop songs of the decade, but I thought that going back to all of that was a mistake after A-ha had reinvented themselves so brilliantly. However, as this was going to be their final record, it made sense to have all the key elements that first defined them as a pop band.
After multiple listens, I can now firmly regard 'Foot of The Mountain' as one of their best albums, and it was a great way to finish such a long and successful career. The sounds of their heyday is certainly here, but the songs all have more maturity, sounding fresh and contemporary. The song 'Foot Of The Mountain' is one of the Norwegian band's best, and a brilliant track that will soon have you hooked after no time at all.
After so many years at the top, it is quite amazing that in 2009 A-ha were still make quality music which would not only please the long term fans but would also introduce them to a whole new generation of listeners. Whilst I am sad that we might never have another album from these , wasn't it great that they departed on such a high note?
on 29 July 2009
Back in 2006 a-ha released a single and an album called Analogue. Mystifyingly and despite rave reviews the album bombed whilst the song gave the band it's first top ten hit in far too long. This time round it seems the process has been reversed - at the time of writing the single has failed to chart whilst the LP, again of the same name, is performing well despite a lukewarm reception from the press.
Synthesizers have always been tricky, providing a sound that many a music snob has derided as "plastic". Yet in a-ha's case they are the tools of very skilled craftsmen. The return to a predominantly electronic sound has worked towards creating the kind of hooks and atmospheric scapes that won a-ha mass appeal in the 80s. This is their defining sound and one that faultlessly compliments Morten Harket's vocals, which are - as always - excellent. With opening track "The Bandstand" a-ha have created one of the crowning glories in their career - a catchy number that bounces its way through melancholy nostalgia.
Interestingly the title song is by far the least synth-led with piano and strings at the forefront. If it had got some decent airplay on stations other than wonderful Radio 2 it would have been a big summer anthem methinks.
"Shadowside" and "What There Is" are whistful ballads of the same calibre as earlier efforts such as "Hunting High and Low" and "Summer Moved On", whilst "Mother Nature Goes to Heaven" has an intro that Depeche Mode would be proud of.
Listening to their ninth studio album, it is easy to understand why a-ha have enjoyed critical respect from their musical peers. This is an album that deserves to be heard. Their fouth this decade, it's probably their best.
on 1 August 2009
This album is simply amazing.
I have been an a-ha fan since the beginning and have loved all of their albums, but this one is head & shoulders above anything they have ever created. Its top of my album list already (sorry Keane, Hopes & Fears, you have been knocked off the top spot after all this time!) and I have only had it 2 days!
For those that remember the boys from the 80's, this album will take you right back. Its an eighties sound with grown up lyrics.
Track 2 (Riding the Crest)gets you tapping your feet instantly and I hope the boys release this as their next single.
Track 6 was so moving it made me cry.
Cant wait to see the boys in November to hear the tracks from the album live.
I dearly hope this album goes to number one and gives the boys the recognition they deserve.