True North, real a-ha? – a-ha France

There are still great things that can happen in the musical world! And the album True North ” of ha ha is part of.

11th studio album of the group with 12 titles, this one stands out. It was recorded in November 2021, in two days in Bodø, Norway under live conditions. The a-ha group was accompanied by the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra. It would probably never have seen the light of day if Magne Furuholmen had stuck to his idea expressed in the film “a-ha The Movie”: “ no new album“.

Photo Stian Andersen

A love letter

This opus is a love letter addressed to their native Norway. The texts, written by Magne Furuholmen and Pal Waaktaar-Savoy, highlight the consequences of global warming and increasingly visible pollution in their country.

Some of Pal’s texts are more personal and evoke his father. It also traces the Nordic culture in which he grew up.

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Photo Stian Andersen

a-ha, same fascination as Edvard Munch and Edvard Grieg

Magne’s compositions express his concerns about the state of the planet. It mixes the contradictions between good and evil, light and darkness.

It is on his farm, recently acquired in the Lofoten Islands, that Magne feels today in harmony with nature, surrounded by his goats as pets. ” I had long dreamed of having a quiet refuge, as an alternative to the stress of cities. It all started when I went skiing in Lofoten with a good friend who had left an important position in the world of finance. He realized he was part of the problem, not part of the solution. Our exchanges in a majestic environment such as Lofoten made a strong impression on me. So I acquired a country house surrounded by nature. It was a source of inspiration. There is a long tradition of references to nature in Norwegian culture. Like Munch’s landscape motifs and Grieg’s fascination with mountains. For a-ha we also wrote a lot about mountains, snow and deep forests. This time, it naturally came to my mind to go deeper into this theme. We thought of true north (True North). An album written like a love letter from the Arctic Circle, all set to music“.

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Photo Stian Andersen

Indeed, melancholy remains omnipresent in the compositions of this album. However, in the texts, it is a certain optimism for the future which is expressed.

A confusing album for fans?

The group a-ha is best known for its synth pop songs. It was therefore a risky bet to which Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Pal Waaktaar-Savoy exposed themselves with True North.

For a-ha fans, the result for some may be perceived as confusing, even disappointing. But the result is remarkable! An album, which for sure, will be considered as a masterpiece of their long career of more than 40 years! ” On this album, we were exceptionally well in phase!“, indicates Magne.

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Photo Stian Andersen

It should also not be forgotten that at the end of the day, we have a deep respect for each other, both as musicians and as people. It’s a pity that this aspect has not had so much place“.

So yes, the album is not common, it surprises, it disappoints, it amazes, it questions… The a-ha group had fun. They will probably reach a new audience, bring back the old ones or scare them away. It’s all the magic of music… It is liked or not, but it expresses itself for everyone’s tastes and conveys important messages that affect us today.

The unanimous press on the album “True North”?

a-ha fans are rather surprised by this album. The press, for its part, seems rather unanimous. Here are some excerpts from the main international press articles on a-ha’s latest album “True North”


a-ha swaps 80s synth for nature sounds in their new album “True North”. The new album falls far short of their most well-known commercial hits, but that doesn’t mean it deserves any less respect. The sounds of the orchestra are deep. Lead singer Morten Harket still has the same perfect, velvety voice as he did decades ago, and the band’s performance in tandem with the orchestra shows just how well the band has aged since its glory days.

Keyboard notes shimmer as string and horn sections remind you that yes, a-ha collaborated with an orchestra, and it worked incredibly well. Adding so many more instruments unlocked a side of a-ha never seen before, allowing the band to create a more full-bodied and soulful sound.

a-ha make music without holding onto Billboard Hot 100 expectations and that’s part of what makes them strong.

Under The Radar Mag (UK) – 8/10

A measured and mature approach obviously. This album contains thoughtful ballads that the band once mastered with their emotive and dizzying 1988 hit “Stay on These Roads” and then in their underrated album, Minor Earth Major Sky of 2000.

NOTWe (True North) hope it serves as a benchmark for exploring the back catalog of an often overlooked, often brilliant band. It will certainly not be the last we hear from them. (Italy)

“True North”, the return of a-ha’s pared down pop. Morten always performs with great skill and a well-balanced voice and gentle depth of field. for those who like non-trivial adult pop, but with some character and good melody changes, a-ha’s might be a happy listen. (Netherlands) – 9/10:

Let me cut to the chase. Norwegian band a-ha’s new album is very good. ‘True North’, released worldwide on October 21, is a-ha’s best album ever. Evoke all tracks in the album separately wouldn’t make sense. There are no bad titles on it. Of course pop groups have collaborated with symphony orchestras before, but the result has rarely been as beautiful as on this album. A unique symbiosis between a pop group and a symphony orchestra. The compositions reflect with emotion and intensity the environment in which the album was recorded. a-ha allows you to take this journey as a listener, with the band as your guide. ‘True North’ is one of the best albums. (9/10)

Dagsavisen (Norway) – 5/6:

“40 years after the start of their career, a-ha are back with one of their best albums. (…) Despite its long history, it is a group that stands out as very relevant in 2022. “

Dagbladet (Norway) – 5/6:

“True North is an album that cements the band as unique songwriters and at the same time displays new sounds and solutions. Few bands with a 40-year career are able to do the same. »

NRK (Norway) – 5/6:

“Furuholmen and Waaktaar-Savoy contributed six songs each. In a miraculous way, they’ve managed to create a totally cohesive album that’s also full of variety. They master both the nostalgic and the contemporary. »

Anthem (Sweden) – 7/10:

“If you are not touched by the beautiful melancholy of the group or by the divine singing, you have no heart. (…) I have the impression that they have created an excellent album.

laut (Germany) – 5/5:

» (…) their best album since 1993. (…) An album shared between prospective experimentation and nostalgia. A masterpiece that combines all their strengths. »

RollingStone (Germany) – 4/5:

“A late masterpiece from the Norwegian trio. (…) Adult pop has rarely been better defined, thanks in part to a distinctive yet understated vocalist like Morten Harket. »

albumism (United States) – 4.5/5:

“To thumb their noses at received ideas around their identity has allowed Waaktaar-Savoy, Furuholmen and Harket to build a discography full of accomplished recordings. a-ha continues in that tradition with True North, another jewel in their pop crown – long may they reign.

Morten Harket’s powers of interpretation are impressive when you consider that he did not write any titles contained in True North”

AllMusic – 3.5/5:

“It’s a grown-up pop record filled with beautifully written songs, filled with musical reinventions, sonic evolutions and abundant creativity. »

Retropop Magazine – 5/5:

“For a band whose foundations are built on synth pop music, ‘True North’ is a bold move, but the result is a standout album in their catalog. It is sure to be remembered as a masterpiece of their career. »

TakeToNews :

“A late masterpiece from the Norwegian trio. This eleventh (!) album has it all. »

bleistiftrocker :

“In any case, the approach of ‘True North’ is very good, even if the album is not always convincing. This opus could be the last album of a-ha. Which would be a shame for this indisputably brilliant pop group. » (Italy)

“a-ha are back with their 11th studio album “True North”. First unreleased project since “Cast In Steel” in 2015. The new songs are imbued with a deep sense of belonging and connection about how to interact with the environment we live in. With their letter from Norway, the group shows where they come from and who they are, and how the link between these two aspects is indestructible. For this, “True North” shows the most sincere, personal and emotional A-ha. » (Norway)

“True North” offers the iconic voice of Morten Harket in all its glory. From the first vocal notes, it’s as if you’re standing at St. Peter’s door and the angels have decided on the soundtrack. The Philharmonic strings contribute to a high quality black feel! The intro to the album is absolutely wonderful. This trio just isn’t out of fashion, and they’re always full of new ideas. (Greece)

There is no doubt that “True North is their most revealing, personal and moving album. The balance between their new compositions and the quality that distinguishes a-ha, can be found in their songs and the overall concept of “True North”. (Brazil)

The songs on the record are imbued with a sense of place and a deep connection to how we interact with our environment. For the first time, a-ha shows us where they come from, who they are and how the link between the two is inseparable. No wonder “True North” is a-ha’s most revealing – never before has the spirit of a-ha been so exposed. Balances are found – between the new approach and the inherent qualities of a-ha, between the songs themselves and the overall concept of “True North”.

The (France) – 4/5

Shameful observation of the inaction of their generation (they are 60 years old) in the face of climate challenges, too. The result is a soaring, committed and moving album, rediscovering the past (True North recalls Stay on theseRoads) or testing new things (the big band on Hunter in the Hills).

NN (Germany)

With “True North” A-ha presents a wonderful new album that shows the new musical side of the Norwegians – and deserves to be heard live. EPrivately, the a-ha musicians may have drifted apart, but musically, Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktar-Savoy are still great together.

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True North, real a-ha? – a-ha France

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