[sic] Magazine

Hajk – Drama

Hajk – ‘Drama’ (Jansen Records)
Review by Paul Lockett

Hajk originate from Norway and Drama follows on from their self-titled debut album which was released in 2017. The band is a five-piece who share vocal responsibilities between three members, meaning that there’s a strong mix of both male & female lead vocals. The whole album is actually an understated affair which leaves plenty of room for the melodies; instrumentation is generally stripped right back. Hajk also clearly know a thing or two about a melody – ‘Dancing Like This’ is delicious dance-pop while ‘Sorry’ summons the ghosts of the Beach Boys.

It’s the catchiness of those melodies which really helps Drama stand apart from many of its contemporaries. The focus is very much the vocal line – the band has self-produced the album and they’ve clearly made a huge effort to allow the vocals to drive the songs – in many cases the drums & bass have been ‘contained’ to create additional space for the melody – this is particularly the case during opener ‘Keep Telling Myself’ where handclaps replace drums throughout the first half of the verse.

Fans of minimalist pop will find much to like here. The quality of songwriting is superb, particularly on tracks such as ‘Get It Right’. That the band has made a conscious effort to target a certain dynamic will certainly win them new fans but may well also divide opinion, as some listeners may find the lack of instrumentation a slight niggle. Overall, it’s a tiny point as the songs really do speak for themselves. ‘Get It Right’ is sure to appeal to fans of 70s pop such as Steely Dan.

When Hajk turn up the volume, as they do occasionally during choruses (‘Breathe’), you’re left in no doubt that they completely understand what makes a song tick. I look forward to hearing a lot more from them.

Drama is out now on CD, LP & limited-edition splatter LP.