Text: Paul van der Zalm

In 2018, Hater seemed to have a glorious future ahead of them: the band from Malmö was seen as one of the promises at Eurosonic Noorderslag and Siesta, their first album after switching from indie label PNKSLM to the bigger Fire Records, was looked out for. That was quite surprising, as it was quite difficult to link the image of the still young band with singer-guitarist Caroline Landahl as the eye-catcher to the sound of the 2016 debut EP and the subsequent 2017 LP. Jangling guitars and Landahl’s sometimes almost skipping voice didn’t exactly make it radio-friendly music. Still, there was that ‘je-ne-sais-quoi’ right away that held attention and apparently excited critics.

The tour of the US in the wake of fellow countrymen Radio Dept was therefore eagerly awaited, and the single ‘Four Tries Down / It’s A Mess’ was released in support of it in 2019, but the tour was cancelled and the big breakthrough still didn’t happen. So that’s ‘Bad Luck’ and that’s also the title of the song that was released in June 2021 and thus foreshadowed the album Sincere that comes out today. It is a catchy song that immediately gets under your skin. Landahl indeed knows how to sincerely convey the feeling that she is wallowing in grief; it will probably turn out all right again, but not right now (“I promise I’ll be fine”). It is noticeable that her singing has improved and that the low register suits her well, with a pleasant raw edge.  In the accompanying video clip, we see Landahl auditioning, which adds to the uneasy feeling. The cover photo, by the way, is also from this session. Musically, this song is in line with the earlier releases and that is special, because on this album only Måns Leonartsson remains from the original line-up. Frederick Rundquist and Rasmus Andersson are the new band members.

It’s funny that the previous album was announced as having a vibe that is ideal for a summer love, but one that results in a broken heart with a brutal ending, because ‘Summer Turns To Heartburn’ on this album is in line with earlier songs. Musically, too, the song turns into an autumnal depression halfway through. Of course, ‘I’m Yours Baby’ by Hater is not a love song. But it is a relief to hear a track that seems to have been recorded in one take, instead of all the overproduced music. Probably credits for this go to producer Joakim Lindberg who has been involved with the band from the beginning.

In ‘Bad Blood’ things are getting rough, both in the intro and the end. The vocals are low, unpolished and long, with some echo. It is followed by the rightly up-tempo single ‘Far From A Mind’, that starts with a New Order-intro and then passes into hectic rhythms like in the music of Jagd or Waltzburg. The choirs stand out here too. Opening track ‘Something’ is a more catchy song in the vein of Wolf Alice or the Cardigans, but a bit more alternative, like the early Sugarcubes (Björk’s band). Even more than the other songs, it leans on a catchy guitar hook. Maybe expectations have decreased, but fortunately all hope is not lost, as proven by the closing track ‘Hopes High’, which immediately tastes like more, although for a band like this it is certainly an acquired taste. 

Fire Records / Konkurrent

Photo credit: David Möller