Erik Hassle | Innocence Lost (TEN/RCA)

“Breaking the Waves” is pure bliss, gorgeous, haunting, rich, soulful, and smoldering.

There is a place where your ears will be so blissed out, they’ll radiate love and joy throughout your body. Your mind will be happy. Your feet will be happy. Your eyes will be happy. Everything: happy.

That place is anywhere Erik Hassle’s long-awaited U.S. full-length is playing. It could be your office, your home, your car, your headphones. Ear heaven is just a button press away.

Innocence Lost is four previously released tracks—the “No Words” single, and “Pathetic,” “Talk about It” (featuring Vic Mensa), and “Innocence Lost” from 2014’s Somebody’s Party EP—and eight delicious new ones. I’ve already established how good his previously work is, and it fits in well here alongside tantalizing new work.

Definitely the best song I’ve heard this year—and sure to be in near the top of my best-of 2017 list—is “Breaking the Waves”: It’s pure bliss, gorgeous, haunting, rich, soulful, and smoldering. “If Your Man only Knew” features more smoldering sounds and Hassle’s rich vocals. It’s about heartbreak, delivered with heart—and a hope that’s waning. The same sense of impending loss underlies “TKO,” as Hassle asks for one more round of the game of love, offering “Come knock me down.”

“Innocence Lost” was a slow burner the first time I heard it, and it’s every bit as powerful here, sandwiched between the new tracks. (Vocals from Tinashe contribute to the yearning.) “Silver & Gold” has more of a funk feel, the perfect track for close dancing in the club or bedroom. The spoken-word bridge summons the smell of clove cigarettes from darkwave ’80s dance parties.

“FTPA” (an acronym for one way to deal with heartbreak) hearkens back to 1990s Depeche Mode, yet with more of a bedroom vibe. Hassle proposes “kissing your scars softly/ watching you heal slowly,” urging her to “stay in this moment” as he shows his brokenhearted lady that her lost lover wasn’t the only one who could make her shiver.

“All of You All over Me” is about reencountering a lost love six years later. Although he tries to recall why it ended, he’s more focused on the here and now, “as everything comes back again.” He proposes a reunion in a gentle falsetto that, were I the girl before him, I would find hard to turn down.

Although the last two songs lose a little of the brilliance preceding them, they’re still worthy components of this album. “Minnesota” is a straightforward rock-pop song, less simmering and more direct. “Missing You,” the last track on the album and its first single, is a slowed-down ode to a love who has died. Hassle sings about the last time he saw her and his feelings of loss as the rain falls like tears. It’s a bit of a downer, sure, but it’s honest and bare. And let’s face it: Hassle writes incredible songs about heartbreak—even if most of them drip with sexiness and longing.

If you’re unfamiliar with Erik Hassle, Innocence Lost is the perfect introduction, as it’s a thing of aural beauty. Not only is the Swedish pop-soul singer-songwriter a superstar in Sweden and the U.K., he’s also an in-demand songwriter, having co-penned hits for Shakira and Icona Pop, among others. Although the 29-year-old popster has been releasing music since 2008, he didn’t break our shores until 2014. If this album is any indication, he won’t be leaving American ears and hearts anytime soon. A | Laura Hamlett

About Laura Hamlett 466 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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