It’s the voice that gets you first – an angelic but bubbly sound, rich in colourful soul and gleefully playful. It resonates within in a way unfelt since Bjork’s Debut, with overtones of fellow Scandinavian songtress Stina Nordenstam. Such unruly beauty sucks you in without a pause for breath, but it’s only when Hanne Hukkelberg has you firmly within her grasp that she allows you access to the deepest enclaves of Little Things.
The skittering beats and squealing sounds – like effect-laden fingernails on blackboards and podgy digits rolling around the edges of expensive champagne flutes – pepper traditional indie-pop compositions that themselves choose to dabble in jazz and folk music. The overall effect is intoxicating, and headphone exposure plunges the listener into a deep pool of gorgeous fairytale mermaids and sunken treasure, awaiting imminent discovery. Chests of gold and silver, full of trinkets and charms, are in abundance – ‘Cast Anchor’ is a wonderful, sunshine-bleached ballad to longing to belong somewhere… anywhere, just for a while. Somewhere perfect, somewhere serene and where the bothers and trials of the everyday are faraway.
The fractured pulse of ‘Balloon’ rather vindicates Hukkelberg’s UK label choice – Leaf is hardly renowned for its dalliances with pop music – but even that soon evolves into a string-laden paean to loss, the balloon in question slipping from its owner’s grasp. Love, too, is a major theme, and is never more apparent than on penultimate number ‘Words & A Piece Of Paper’. It’s the song Natasha Bedingfield wishes ‘These Words’ was, a perfectly realised song of despair regarding the author’s inability to pen a love letter. How, indeed, can you distil complicated feelings into a form compact enough for expression through simple paper and pen? I know I can’t, yet Hukkelberg’s articulate take on such a subject provides the listener with a wonderful four-or-so minutes of slowcore-pop genius. Better still is the closer, ‘Boble’, which sends the listener on a mental voyage to some Parisian boulevard in the springtime, blossom falling upon passers by like snow in Hukkelberg’s native Norway.
All said and done, however creative the music is it’s really Hukkelberg’s voice that enchants and enraptures. Little Things marks the arrival of a talent who will have critics and consumers alike swooning her way for the foreseeable future.
8Mike Diver's Score