I mentioned in my previous post about Neil McCormick’s article on the rise and fall of the next big things, and how that fate may or may not befall Erik Hassle. Big in blog-land this year, and tipped for Robbie-sized success (Guardian’s new band of the day), Erik Hassle had a lot to live up to before his debut album was released.
On the evidence of "Hassle" recently released in Sweden - the British version, with a different title ("Pieces") and album cover, is out later this year - he needn’t worry, because he delivers.
I initially didn’t understand why "Hurtful" wasn’t the first single in the UK, but thought some more about it and realised that maybe that was quite a smart decision, as releasing "Don’t Bring Flowers" has got him some publicity and some press coverage, so maybe by the time "Hurtful" is out, the recognition will already be there and - hopefully - the charts will be there for the taking.
"Bump in the Road" is a powerful opener. "Hurtful" is still the standout track on the album. "The Thanks I Get" is also impressive: it’s a teary-eyed lovelorn ballad. Now you know I don’t like ballads but I find this one genuinely touching.
"Wanna Be Loved" comes on like a cross between EMD’s "Baby Goodbye" (the whistling hookline) and The Beatles’ "Eleanor Rigby" (the "all the lonely people" lyric) yet is an uptempo pop-rock track which succeeds on its own merits. The lyrics on "First Time" recall teenage memories and will feel very relevant to anyone in that age group, whilst the more mature "Bitter End" is reminiscent of Coldplay and Keane’s big sweeping soaring anthems.
There’s another pretty acoustic ballad, "All I Wanted Was You" - what particularly struck me about this track (and the album in general) is that young Mr Hassle isn’t following the crowd and is just making the music he wants to make, whilst having the potential mass appeal of an act like The Script for example. My worry is that in the cureent UK musical climate, there doesn’t seem to be any room for quality pop music, and I return to the "next big things" debate.
In Sweden, Erik Hassle will be allowed to develop as an artist: that isn’t such a certainty in this country. A young man with big hair and big talent, Erik Hassle deserves massive success. I only hope that he will be allowed to have it.
Rating: 7½ out of 10.