Not many people have heard of Kate Havnevik, but her brand of elegant, understated indie-pop deserves to be heard on a much larger scale, particularly when it comes to more adventurous and sonically interesting records such as her latest LP &I.
Several years in the making, &I might be Havnevik’s most interesting and fun record to date, even as it draws strong comparisons to fellow alt-pop experts, namely Imogen Heap. Havnevik’s work has often been compared to Heap’s, and while their differences are strong enough to make them different, moments sprinkled across this enjoyable EP evoke Heap and her work in 2000s dance duo Frou Frou.
Fortunately, though, the differences are strong enough to make Havnevik’s album varying and repeatable, with gems such as the heartfelt ‘Mine’, the saccharine ‘Micronation’, the catchy single ‘Falling’, and the tumultuous ‘Rocks in the Ocean’ with its Nineties guitar bassline giving it the sound of a lost Sleater-Kinney gem.
There are huge emotional highs and low throughout the expansive album – Havnevik channels glitchy, distorted rock for ‘Emotional’, a suitably evocative track, while she channels her inner peace goddess on the bubbling, effervescent ‘A Better Way To Love’, and even goes to Bjork-lite heights with the glitchy and deliciously dark opener, ‘Emperor of Nowhere’, showing a breadth of emotion that wasn’t necessarily present on previous efforts such as the gorgeous and dreamy, if repetitive, ‘Melankton’.
And then there’s the album’s shining moment, the triumphant finale to close off this collection of songs — ‘The River’. A seven-minute dance-pop song that sounds generic on paper, but grows from being a gentle, elegant piano-led ballad into an effulgent dancefloor trance anthem, thanks to Havnevik’s ethereal vocals and to producers and dance music auteurs Sultan + Shephard. ‘The River’ blossoms into a radiant song, one you’ll feel no guilt to dancing at, and one which helps us envision what a dance album filled with artists like Havnevik, Heap and co. would sound like (in short, amazing). Let’s make ‘The River’ a single right now, please.
In short, this might be Havenvik’s best album yet. Havnevik first burst onto the scene when alt-pop goddesses were beginning to become the new normal, even in their own niche and away from the mainstream, and yet she has managed to survive, producing interesting records and songs that are emotive and evocative in equal measure. She’s finally shaking off the Heap comparisons – mostly, anyway – and &I is a thoroughly well-crafted album that is a sweet promise of things to come, one that’s sure to be replayed in years to come.