Foot of the Mountain
Released: June 19, 2009
Peak: -- US, 5 UK, -- CN, -- AU
Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, 0.25 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: synth pop
Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 40:45
3.233 out of 5.00 (average of 3 ratings)
Quotable: “If this is to be a-ha's final LP, then they've undeniably gone out on a high.” – Jon O’Brien, All Music Guide
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
Nearly a quarter century after finding international success with “Take on Me,” the Norwegian synth-pop trio announced that their ninth studio album, Foot of the Mountain, would be their swan song. It turned out the retirement didn’t stick as they returned for a tenth effort, Cast in Steel, in 2015, but no one knew that at the time.
The album was produced by Steve Osborne, who’d worked with New Order, as well as Erik Ljunggren, Roland Spremberg and Mark Saunders. It was recorded in New York, Oslo, Hamburg, Stockholm, and Bath between the autumn of 2008 and the spring of 2009. AZ
“Despite some obvious '80s influences, Foot of the Mountain is far from a contrived attempt at trying to restore former glories.” AMG The album “eschews the melancholic indie pop sound that dominated its predecessor, Analogue, and instead neatly brings their underrated career full circle by returning to the melodic electronica of their early glory days.” AMG
“Opening with the galloping charge of The Bandstand, the album quickly defines itself with the keyboard intro before Morten's instantly recognizable vocals announce their return.” AZ The song “recalls the early noir-ish atmospherics of early Depeche Mode with its pulsating new romantic basslines, eerie spacy synths.” AMG
“The glorious OMD-esque Riding the Crest,” AMG which also shows influences of Arcade Fire, AZ is “arguably their most infectious pop song since 1987 James Bond theme ‘The Living Daylights.’” AZ It “sounds like a number from a classic Giorgio Moroder movie soundtrack.” AZ
From there, “the album flows into the melancholic What There Is before thundering back into the stunning single and title track Foot of the Mountain.” AZ The latter is “a reworking of ‘The Longest Night,’ a song from keyboardist Magne Furuholmen's previous solo album, A Dot of Black in the Blue of Your Bliss.” AMG It “is a soaring slice of emotive piano-driven pop/rock that would make Keane green with envy.” AMG The song was the band’s 19th top-ten hit in Norway.
“Shadowside is a heartbreaking ballad whose string-soaked finale evokes the cinematic choristry of Sigur Rós; and the echoing effects, Chicane-style synth chords.” AMG A ”Peter Hook-influenced bassline turns Sunny Mystery into their most clubby effort to date.” AMG Both sogs incorporate “the most driving and contagious beats and lyrics of A-HA's career.” AZ
“The inventive streak that runs through the album’s ten tracks isn't always quite as successful. Closing number Start the Simulator is a brave but misguided attempt at experimental post-rock, based on a rather clunky space travel metaphor that reduces Harket’s beautifully understated tones to Auto-Tuned anonymity, while Mother Nature Goes to Heaven is a wishy-washy and meandering attempt to highlight the plight of the environment, which suggests the band is much better at tackling more personal themes than heavy-handed issues.” AMG
But while many acts bow out of their careers with lackluster and hastily assembled efforts, Foot of the Mountain is the sound of a band you feel has much more to offer. If this is to be a-ha's final LP, then they've undeniably gone out on a high.” AMG It “is an album that cements A-HA's position in the world of pop.” AZ
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First posted 9/9/2020; updated 8/9/2021.