East of the Sun, West of the Moon

All over the country, aging MTV junkies await the day when the Norwegian electropop mimics in a-ha come up with another ditty as miraculous as ”Take On Me,” the go-for-broke plea for a love connection that topped the charts in 1985. Judging from the new album, it looks like fans will have to keep waiting — and as with followers of the long-defunct ABBA (that other Scandinavian act with a palindrome for a name), they may have to wait forever. With titles like ”Crying in the Rain,” ”Cold River,” ”Rolling Thunder,” and ”(Seemingly) Nonstop July,” East of the Sun appears to be a song cycle about the seasons, sort of like the British band XTC’s ”Skylarking” only not half as catchy. Symphonic piano grandeur and alternating blues/metal/flamenco/funk additives collapse beneath the bloated synthesizer slush. On ”Take On Me” Morten Harket’s croon sailed toward the horizon with the abandon of a bright-eyed prep-school grad anticipating great days ahead. But here his unyielding groan suggests something closer to a mid-life crisis. Just what we need: another washed-up art-rock curmudgeon, probably bitter because his hackwork was never taken as seriously as his mom tells him it should have been. D+

East of the Sun, West of the Moon
  • Music