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Heartbreak and romance: diving into Highasakite’s ‘Bare Romantic Part 1’

Critically-acclaimed Norwegian act Highasakite have recently released Bare Romantic Part 1, the first half of a two-part album. Having only put out their previous album, Uranium Heart, in February of this year, the swift release came as somewhat of a surprise.

Nevertheless, the alternative pop mini-album is a triumph, and perhaps their finest work to date; an outpouring that is charged with emotion, tracing the contours of a heartbreak.

Highasakite have released the first half of their two-part album, Bare Romantic Part 1. It is striking, intimate, and full of electric emotion.

Bare Romantic Part 1 opens with the smouldering lead single, Can I Be Forgiven, which has already received plenty of attention worldwide. Beginning with fingerpicked guitar and layered vocals, eventually bass comes in. The track is slow-building and charged with emotion.

“Can I be forgiven for a lifetime of madness yet to come?” singer Ingrid Helene Håvik’s laments. And then later: “No, I’m not being coy, I know what kind of man I am.”

There’s an inevitability about the lyrics, but also a sense of mourning – it feels like a moment of acceptance. It’s at this point that a pounding kick comes in, followed by echoing drums and arpeggiated synth lines recalling the likes of M83’s Oblivion, featuring fellow Norwegian Susanne Sunfør. It’s a song that perfectly encapsulates Håvik’s ability to hit straight to the heart.

Through Tunnels and Towns is the next track. Painting a completely different picture to its predecessor, the song introduces shades of country music, combined with twisting violin lines and minimalist drums. There’s an earthiness about the song, which embodies the lyrical imagery of a person traveling through towns and countryside. There is an underlying longing – “I want to go home to you”, Håvik sings – and yet, it seems this is impossible.

An electro-pop track more in the vein of the opener, Just A Small Quake begins with minimal, harmony-laden verses. Parting way for soaring synths to emerge in the pre-chorus, finally, a heavy-hitting chorus takes hold, only to break away again to a softer verse.

“I have extracted him from my house… It brings no comfort / That he was never here.” And then: “Just a small quake / Will soon bring us down.” There is a sense of fragility and intensity in equal measures.

Slow ballad Too Much To Handle provides emotional closure for the mini-album. With pulsing synth bass driving the track forward and half-time drums keeping the whole thing anchored, the song provides a perfect balance for the release, sitting somewhere between the softer Through Tunnels and Towns, and the heavier hitting Can I Be Forgiven.

Ending on the repeated phrase, “Could I be intact? Confusion had a cost / Now I’m blind until you’re gone,” the mini-album fades out on a note that feels open-ended, and yet, full of finality.

If Bare Romantic Part 1 serves as an opening statement, we can’t imagine to see what its other half brings. Bare Romantic Part II is due out in 2020, and we wait with bated breath.

 

Bare Romantic Part 1 is out now via Propeller Recordings / Caroline Australia.

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November 13, 2019