As much as Swedish pop might be making waves in the UK and America, American music is hugely popular in Sweden - probably because so much is written by Swedes, Max Martin especially. Erik Hassle is clearly hoping to follow in Martin’s footsteps by carving a career in the UK and US. Writing Shakira and Rihanna’s (pretty dreadful) Can’t Remember To Forget You was the first step.
Next is a focus on his own music with a new EP, ‘Somebody’s Party’ and a North American tour later this year. Hassle’s debut album, ‘Pieces’, was released back in 2009 and was a huge success in his homeland and the rest of Scandinavia, in particular excellent lead single Hurtful. When released in the UK, however, the album failed to make a splash. Now, in a bid to appeal to English tastes, he’s obviously been listening to a lot of American hip-hop and R&B (The Weeknd, Drake and Frank Ocean in particular) and accordingly changed his sound from soulful electro-pop to something altogether darker, glitchier and more contemporary. There’s even a guest appearance from US rapper Vic Mensa.
The biggest influence on Hassle’s new work has definitely been Frank Ocean. Downbeat electro vibes, clipped beats, mournful lyrics and soulful falsetto vocals all feature heavily – What Is He Like in particular could’ve been ripped straight from Ocean’s ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ with its conversational lyrics, yearning vocal delivery and vibrant synths. Somebody’s Party, meanwhile, ends the album on a sombre note, Hassle’s vocal tone continuing to sound remarkably similar to Ocean’s.
Comparisons aside, Hassle is an exciting artist in his own right. From funky opener Pathetic (produced by SOHN), through the emotive chorus of Talk About It, and the atmospheric Ready For You, ‘Somebody’s Party’ is an EP bridging the gap between current US trends for mournful R&B and icy Scandinavian cool. You can expect to hear Hassle’s name crop up frequently as a songwriter in the near future, but he’s keeping the best songs for himself. As long as he can maintain his own individuality, the US and UK success he’s craving should be on the cards.
Listen: ‘Somebody’s Party’ is available now.