Kate Havnevik – You

Kate Havnevik - You (2011)

Kate Havnevik – You (2011)

It’s amazing what five years mean in terms of evolution, musically speaking. From Melankton we learned to appreciate Havnevik’s particular way of delivering her songs, however something has changed since that and we have a collection of more pop driven songs, you can almost feel an effort to simplify things and make it more accessible for everyone.

That is of course something good, because instead of making everything more complex, it just proves that evolution isn’t necessarily a process that requires making your art increasingly complex and difficult to digest just for the sake of it. Making it easier for everyone might have been a risky decision considering that Melankton was generally perceived as a breath of fresh air amidst bland and uninspired electronic inspired pop albums at the time

However when I refer to this album as significantly easier, I don’t want to give the impression that the key elements went missing in the lapse of time between one and the other. It certainly feels different, but still retains the key elements that made us fell in love with her voice and her approach to singing. You departs from the general downtempo influenced mood that dominated for the most part in the past, and greets us with a bright new direction, vivid and with a lot more confidence than we could ever notice before.

Perhaps this became way too pop for someone who is used to more electronic influenced music, but it shouldn’t be seen as a turning down point. Something I liked was the fact that this album stands by the strength of it as a whole, it doesn’t depend on a catchy tune as an entry point, and while it does have its share of enjoyable songs, I couldn’t find one that could overpower the rest of the album, or at least it isn’t noticeable at first, which speaks of a good balance between the 12 songs included.

Something that was lost in the translation was the inclusion of some trip hop and downtempo moments here and there. It was without a doubt one of the reasons that made Melankton memorable for me, and while this new attitude seems to be working wonders for Havnevik’s career, I can’t avoid the feeling that something important was left out of this album. It doesn’t diminish the good replay value this album has, just to be clear.

I remember criticizing Melankton of being a somewhat cold overall experience, and although I’m not sure I still consider it that way, truth to be told, You is the complete opposite of that, falling into the warm and happy category in my book, it’s a surprisingly pleasant experience from start to finish. Midway through you realize that you forgot that you are actually listening to a pop album, and that’s not something many albums can brag about.

You might not be a game changer in the usually crowded pop arena, and I certainly don’t think there’s enough arguments here to make this go into all-time favorite lists (I might be wrong, but at this point in time it seems unlikely), but overall it’s a very solid effort and some of the songs here demand to be taken seriously.

Second albums are always tough, specially if you are trying to prove that your first album wasn’t just a lucky shot in the dark. This might have gone in a different direction than most of us were expecting, but it not only serves to prove the first, it also helps to assure us that this Norwegian might have some more tricks under her sleeve. Let’s just hope that we won’t have to wait another five years for it.



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