Morten Harket's last album received a bit of a lukewarm review here from me, but there were enough shining moments to peak my interest when I saw he had a new album out. The former a-ha front man still has one of the more distinctive voices in pop music, a voice that carried that band to over 36 million albums sold worldwide. As I stated in that previous review, there was a lot more to a-ha than "Take On Me" to audiences outside of America.
Brother succeeds in matching Harket's vocal gift with top notch material. Whereas 2012's Out Of My Hands didn't gain steam until its second half, the new album comes right out of the gate strong with the title track, one of five choice ballads spread amongst the ten songs. "Heaven Cast" highlights Harket's angelic falsetto, as does the album's best ballad, the mournful "Can't Answer This."
If you're expecting the synth-pop sound that first garnered a-ha success in the States, you'll be surprised by Brother musically. Although there are pop tracks like "Safe With Me" and "Do You Remember Me?" most of the songs are built around guitars, bass and live drums, with keyboards fleshing them out instead of serving as the prominent instrument. "Oh What A Night" and "First Man To The Grave" even draw on influences as diverse as country and blues. Overall, it's a pop-rock formula that showcases Harket's mighty voice and winning material from start to finish.
Favorite tracks: "Can't Answer This", "Brother", "Heaven Cast", "Safe With Me"
Brother was released in the UK April 14, 2014 via Wrasse Records. There is currently no U.S. release planned.