Scandinavia keeps pumping music into our charts and looks set to continue doing so with new kid on the block Erik Hassle, a 20-year-old around whom a certain buzz is forming.
So far most of his headlines may have related to his novelty assymetrical ginger afro that’s giving Elly La Roux Jackson some competition for “most ridiculous hairstyle of the year”, so it was time for him to deflect some of that attention towards his music.
The basement of the recently renamed Queen Of Hoxton, formerly known as Industry, is a favourite venue for major label industry showcases that’s already seen Delphic, Filthy Dukes and Crystal Fighters flaunt their wares since it opened five months ago.
Erik Hassle’s Scandinavian contemporaries offer different styles of perky pop, whether it’s edgy (Robyn), indie (Lykke Li) or simply commercial (Alphabeat). In comparison, Hassle’s material turned out to be surprisingly middle-of-the-road.
With 1980s influences all around at the moment, and with the likes of Frankmusik and Dan Black trying to match the girls for derivative electro-pop, it was down to Hassle were to provide something interesting. But with a series of mid-tempo tunes and an occasional synth flourish, this was more Cutting Crew than Depeche Mode.
Some tracks made more impact than others. Towards the end of the set, Love Me To Pieces was great, injecting some energy into the set and standing out as an addictive slice of hook-laden power-pop. Big sweeping love song Headfall also cut it and gave Hassle a chance to demonstrate his voice’s power.
But too much was unmemorable. Even current single Don’t Bring Flowers After I’m Dead was underwhelming, and while the songs were generally easy on the appealing they didn’t make enough of an impact. They could fall into the “guilty pleasure” category, but The Script kept coming to mind. As it turns out, Hassle has supported them on tour.
Hassle’s material has a touch more flair than The Script generally offer, but those of us hoping that this 20-year-old would provide something younger and fresher were left disappointed.
As a performer he engaged minimally with the crowd, and it didn’t feel like there was too much of a connection. He may still be young and possibly a little nervous, but as the short set came to a close there was a mere ripple of applause before he was gone.
And yet Hassle’s music is the kind that could go huge. It will appeal to a huge demographic who will enjoy the straightforward, predictable nature of his tunes. Expect to see a lot of him in the coming months, but equally don’t be too surprised if it all passes you by completely.