Highasakite Uranium HeartJust because Highasakite successfully traversed the dreaded second-album curse and firmly squished any possible third-album-curse (2014’s Silent Treatment and 2016’s Camp Echo both hit #1 in the band’s native Norway, and received accolades around the world), it doesn’t mean the duo were exempt from outside pressure for their fourth album, this month’s splendorous Uranium Heart.

Vocalist and songwriter Ingrid Håvik admits she found it strenuous adhering to her own vision, as label bodies sought to “commission” certain kinds of songs. “People were, ‘I want more songs like that song,’ or ‘more acoustic’ or ‘more electronic,’” she says. “People think that they can just order music.”

Determined to stick to their guns, Håvik and bandmate Trond Bersu created an album rich in enigmatic synths and atmospheric vocals, one of the first tastes of which was the stunning, slow thump of single Mexico. Håvik says she knew she’d nailed the bittersweet vocal line immediately, on the very first take. “That’s very unusual for me; I take lots of takes,” she explains. “Sometimes I don’t get the right impression when I sing, so it takes a long time. But with [Mexico], it was very clear to me how I wanted to sing it. And I got it out, and I felt like I couldn’t do it again.”

Stand-out I Call Bullsh-t also presented a new avenue of approach: Håvik had to initially sing very quietly, as she recorded the demo in her bedroom and didn’t want to wake her sleeping boyfriend. “It’s a really old song, so it was several boyfriends ago,” she clarifies. “But it was also unusual for me, because I normally sing very loud. And it kind of opened the door to a new kind of singing, that’s softer and closer.”

Uranium Heart is out February 1 via Caroline.

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