TRACKLIST: Cast in Steel; Under the Makeup; The Wake; Forest Fire; Objects in the Mirror; Door Ajar; Living at the End of the World; Mythomania, She’s Humming a Tune; Shadow Endeavours; She’s Giving up the Ghost.
WORTH A LISTEN: ****
Five years after splitting up following a comprehensive world tour, a-ha are back with their 10th studio album and another chance to see them live.
Cast in Steel is their 1st album since 1988’s Stay On These Roads to deploy original producer Alan Tarney and 1993’s Memorial Beach was the last time the band’s first logo, also adorning this cover, was used. So we’re gifted an album we never thought we’d hear and it’s deliberately evoking the sounds and sights of the band’s illustrious past.
Debut single Under the Makeup (YouTube clip above) is brilliant: pulling off that awkward trick of sounding like the band at the top of the game but different enough for it to genuinely lay claim to be among a-ha’s best singles of which there are so many; Take On Me, The Sun Always Shines On TV and I’ve Been Losing You to name just three.
monstagigz caught a-ha for the 1st time on that farewell tour at the Wembley Arena and have since seen lead singer Morten Harket solo at the Indig02 and there’s always been the sense about them that they were never really appreciated at the height of their fame for the brilliant songwriters they were. Coldplay, in particular, owe them a great debt and found fame years later with a similar sound.
Elsewhere on Cast in Steel all three members share writing credits (although rarely together) and it’s the contribution of Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (formerly Pål Waaktaar and always the main songwriter) that are the most focused and commercial.
If it’s an album lacking in big-sounding hits (we’re only really loving Under the Makeup and the title track) there is much else here that is worthy of repeat play and likely to be more rewarding for it afterwards. Were they right to reunite so soon after such a comprehensive farewell (greatest hits, reissues, live album and world tour)? Most definitely.
- a-ha play London’s 02 26/3 with tickets still available from £25.