The Another Listen series features music that while wasn't released this year, due to its unforgettable qualities, is music we believe should be revisited. And what better time than now? In this edition, we'll be looking back at 2017 released album, HAJK by HAJK.
The self-titled record is like a nesting doll — on the surface, it’s happy and smiling, but the deeper you dig the more layers you’ll find. A strong, attention-grabbing debut from the five-piece Oslo-based band HAJK immediately wraps you up in warm, intertwining male/female vocals, bright guitar riffs and positive piano melodies — but the indie pop packs a surprising, underlying punch, touching on themes of heartbreak, nostalgia, and the reluctance of letting go of broken relationships.
The newcomers, helmed by Sigrid Aase and Preben Andersen have cited influences ranging from Dirty Projectors, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Father John Misty since they caught abuzz after landing their first show at Norway’s biggest music festival Øyafestivalen in 2016. They’ve charmed audiences across the globe with their intimate vocals and dynamic textures ever since, landing attention from Vice’s “Noisey” and actress Chloe Grace Moretz and others.
From the first hazy opening notes of “Magazine,” the song wraps listeners in the musical equivalent of a bear hug, complete with a steady, shuffling beat, reflective and relaxed female vocals and gentle waves of electric guitar.
The lyrics hold the band’s signature melancholy underside, exploring feelings of frustration and distrust in a relationship, saying “I’m stuck in a bad dream, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to believe.”
Yet, the group doesn’t leave you to linger in darkness for long, instead allowing the bouncy instrumentation and intimate vocals of the song let the sun shine through, leaving listeners in calm reflection.
While the group is fully capable of laying the sunny, cozy vibes on thick, the lyrical narrative throughout the album is not always a walk in the park. Kicking off with the breezy riffs and the shuffling beat of album single “Magazine," listeners are transported into the inner monologue of someone struggling with their frustrating relationship. While Aase croons, “You’re the one I want / But you’re not what I need," the sentiment carries over to other songs like “Common Sense” and “Nothing Left to Say.” Wrapped up in wobbly synth lines, funky bass and driving rhythms that are as bouncy and positive as the meaning behind it are vulnerable and pained.
Though it would seem easy with all the uncertainty and disconnect to feel down and frustrated, the band deftly steers away from letting listeners sink into despair, instead steeping their instrumentation deeper in infectiously bright indie dream pop. As Line of Best Fit noted: “Andersen has compared “Magazine” to ‘a simple painting that becomes something else when you are standing really close to it — and this is true for the rest of the record.
None of the tracks require much input to enjoy, but when honed in on, a mesh of pleasing textures and dynamics arise.” Whether you’re hoping to connect your own feelings to the relationships described in the album, or looking for some beachy indie pop to bob your head to, Hajk has you covered.
When listening to HAJK, lyrics, sounds, rhythms could all be ebbing and flowing to the font focus of one's mind. This arrival in such awareness means tapping into one's sense of hearing. So why not include the other four senses for a full sensory experience? In our mission to celebrate great music, we've curated a menu that tunes into every functional characteristic of human beings.
So grab a friend, make it a night of music and savor the experience through and through.
Nodding to Hajk’s home country of Norway, this locally made by House SpiritsDistillery in Portland features strong avors of caraway and star anise, beautifully balanced and steeped in a rich tradition. Considered the national drink of Norway, “aquavit” comes from the Latin term aqua vitae meaning “water of life,” and in the 1500s was believed to be a cure for almost anything. While we can’t recommend this spirit as a replacement to water we do suggest pouring yourself a glass of the obscure liquor on the rocks, settling into a cozy spot and allowing Hajk to lull you into gentle reaction. www.housespirits.com
Whether struggling coming to terms with the end of a relationship — as exemplified in the heartbroken lyrics of “Medicine” — or just in need of some skin hydration, this lotion by Barnwell Co. will help soothe your woes. Crafted in Portland in small batches, the lotion features a blend of essentials oils selected to spark imagination and encourage tranquility. This vetiver and lemongrass concoction also includes hydrating aloe vera, rejuvenating camellia oil and green tea extract to give your skin a boost of vitamins and antioxidants. Lather some on, turn the music up, and let the healing effects work their magic. www.madeherepdx.com
Gathered from beehives after being collected and packed by worker bees for their queen, the full wealth of health benefits from bee pollen is still largely unknown, but may include helping with allergies, asthma and weight loss — plus it’s rich in vitamins and nutrients that promote overall well-being. This little vial of sunshine from Bee Local is full of pollen found the northern Willamette Valley, providing a literal taste of the Northwest. Sprinkle these little nuggets of springtime on your next smoothie, turn up the volume to “Flowerdust,” kick your feet up and revel in its satisfying glow. www.beelocal.com
It’s universally known there are few combinations better than potatoes, butter and cream, but Hajk’s album might come close. Constructed of simple guitar melodies and straightforward beats with groovy bass lines, energetic claps and fuzzy synth are sprinkled throughout the album all while maintaining minimal instrumentation with imaginative layers. Similarly lefses — the humble Norwegian bread —might be simple in few ingredients, but the traditional dish is easy to build on with sugar, butter, eggs and more. Use this mix to create a simple lefse dish for a celebration meal or to accompany a thoughtful Sunday morning breakfast. www.ingebretsens.com
Polaroid Instant Digital Camera
Reminiscent of the classic instant cameras popularized in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Polaroid's newest offering is a dual lm and digital camera with a built in, on-the-spot printer. Plus, it’s small enough to fit in a pocket so you can bring it anywhere. Snap a couple of pictures of you and your best friends the next time you’re at show or maybe just a selfie. A blend of nostalgia and reality — not unlike most of lyrics found in Hajk — this camera will help preserve life’s moments even after the sentiment has long faded. www.polaroid.com