The song writing duties have been handled by all three A-ha members this time. The thing one notices after a few listens is that the tracks written by Magne Furuholmen and vocalist Morten Harket are, with one exception, undoubtedly the best. Still, Pål Waaktaar-Savoy has written most tracks on "Lifelines", branding his pieces with an annoyingly anonymous mainstream sound.
The title track opens the album and it is A-ha in their right element. An absolutely beautiful mid-tempo song, written by Furuholmen, oozing of melancholy and Morten's wide-range vocals. The following two tracks follow the same emotional path and make me sit silently, just watching out my bedroom window, daydreaming of lost loves with tears in my eyes.
The single "Forever Not Yours" stand out as one of the strongest A-ha tunes to date. It is electronically charged pop with a nice piano melody and that chorus of tragedy, sung impeccably by one of the bests vocalists of all time. Morten Harket is reason enough to buy any A-ha release, if you ask me. I'm considering picking up his solo album "Wild Seed", by the way.
What follows the magic of the first song trio is a wild journey of hopelessly flat songs even Morten can not save. But we also get a few more true A-ha gems. The one exception I mentioned at the start of the review is "Time & Again", a song where Waaktaar has really succeeded in writing a heart felt ballad. But again, what would it be without Harket and his set of chords. Another great ballad appears among the last few songs (the album is way too long with 15 songs), a duet with Bel Canto member Anneli Drecker. It sends delightful chills down my spine every time.
Had "Lifelines" been an EP of, say, six tracks, it would have been an eight or nine, but it has a lot of fillers. It ruins the whole listening experience when masterpieces are followed by downright bores.
So, for the next album, use Martin Landqvist, a k a Nåid, as producer for the entire album as his production adds an extra dimension to the A-ha sound. And maybe Pål Waaktaar-Savoy should focus on his own band Savoy and let Magne and Morten write the music for future releases. Just a thought.