"SCOUNDREL DAYS." a-ha. Warner Bros. Too bad the people who handle this Norwegian trio's visuals don't do the music too. Last time it was a great video for "Take On Me" that outshone the music. This time it's an album cover combining stunning photography and brilliant design for a package far superior to its contents. A-ha seems intent on proving itself to be more than just three teen dream pin-ups. The cover photos downplay those possibilities, and the music is certainly well-crafted modern pop.
But good intentions and studio craft are not enough. Where last year's debut at least offered a couple of memorable hooks, not a single lick on this follow-up makes a lasting impression. Without any interesting melodies to work with, singer Morten Harket settles into an ineffective Bryan Ferry imitation whose feigned iciness is ill-suited to the frothy textures of the songs and the pseudo-heaviness of the lyrics. Hard as it may try, a-ha just seems like a band without much to say.