A-ha has released their first new single in seven years, “I’m In,” off the band’s forthcoming 11th album, and accompanying film, True North, out Oct. 21. “I’m In” is an affecting look into the reparative state of human conditions.
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Set by a nature-lit backdrop within the band’s native Norway, True North, which follows the band’s 2015 release Cast in Steel, combs through a cognizance of environmental as well as mental and spiritual stabilities. Roused by provoking lyrics and swept up around the atmospheric orchestration of the Arctic Philharmonic, True North is “a letter from A-ha, from the Arctic Circle, a poem from the far north of Norway with new music,” says keyboardist Magne Furuholmen, who penned six of the 12 songs on the album, including “I’m In,” along with guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, who wrote the remaining half.
“I’m In” explores the commitment to support another in troubled times, drifting from a broken state to one more renewed. Give in / Don’t give up / Breathe / Don’t you stop / Breathe in / Just breathe / There are times / Good times after these, sings Morten Harket, captivatingly linking both ends of the story.
“Real commitment is a leap of faith,” adds Furulohmen. “Everyone knows how difficult it can be to offer commitment and support unconditionally, but this is what it takes to make anything worthwhile happen—love, friendship, change, self-improvement, careers, a better world. Easier said than done of course but it begins with an attitude, then uttering the words. After this, it is all hard work to realize whatever potential your commitment has in the world. Without this attitude, everything just gets bogged down with conflicting thoughts, doubts, and fear. Just say it: ‘I’m in.’”
Striking visuals of death, or the end of something, and a sense of restoration accompanying “I’m In” were pulled from the longer True North film, directed by A-ha’s longtime collaborator and photographer Stian Andersen. The full film captures the band recording the album with the Arctic Philharmonic in Bodø, a town located 55 miles above the Arctic Circle, and is interspersed with imagery of the surrounding landscape along with vignettes featuring actors and the band discussing True North.
“With every album we tweak it to see if there’s a different way to go about it,” says Savoy of combining the film and album.
Prior to releasing “I’m In,” the band have also been previewing True North tracks “You Have What It Takes” and “Forest For The Trees” on their worldwide tour, commemorating their 1985 debut Hunting High and Low. Recorded after a touring halt following the beginning of the pandemic, A-ha regrouped in the Northern Norwegian town to flesh out the songs and document True North in 2021.
“First, we had the idea to record a studio session live, then to film a studio session,” shares Savoy. “That grew into more of a production with the Norwegian orchestra, the Arctic Philharmonic.”
The True North film will be released in cinemas worldwide later in the summer of 2022 and available for rental and purchase following the October release of the album.
Photo: Stian Anderson