Norwegian indie pop aficionados Hajk (say: hike) said that they named their 2019 album after interpersonal conflict—specifically, of the romantic kind. Drama, as it is officially known, is a concise record of heartbreak and yearning, wavering between the two for ten songs. There is no throughline to follow; instead the album progresses like a series of vignettes featuring love as it grows distant, begs to be reunited, or simmers in dissatisfied stagnation.
Harmonies and hooks are Hajk’s specialties; with them, they describe life with a compelling simplicity, despite the inherent complexity of emotion. On Drama, they hone in on exactly the feelings they’re evoking, particularly with regard to love and heartache. Synthesizers are given the most freedom to fill in gaps between sparing percussion and low basslines. Vocals trade-off between the band’s two lead singers, but the stories all remain centered on an unknown external object of affection. They are convincing, especially on “Desperately” and “Sorry” which both confirm a sense of yearning though they have contradictory contexts.
Infatuation is a rollercoaster. It’s easy to fall into the agonizing push-and-pull of romance laid out on this record, which is mimicked in the tracklist; attempts to accept lost love (“Keep Telling Myself”) are interrupted by voyages inward as a way to alleviate the pain (“Dancing Like This”). They may have said that it was “Time to Forget” but in the next minute they can’t breathe without being flooded with memories. The final impression Drama leaves is not catharsis, it’s defeat; there may be no way to truly eradicate the constant struggle for love, but that is no reason to stop fighting.
Best Albums of 2019
7. Hajk – Drama