There was a point in 2015 where a well-earned peak in Erik Hassle’s career was met with a crash. Following a collision of his tour bus whilst on a Scandinavian tour with MØ, the creative progress of the artist’s first studio album since 2008 was called into serious question. Emerging from hospital with no overly serious injuries, the release of Innocence Lost plays testament to the perseverance of a Swedish artist whose ability to fuse his vocal talents to any given musical capacity make this second LP all the more special.
Rather than a long-playing tale of survival or epiphany, Hassle croons and carves between the romantic nuances of his work with little in the way of a red line other than his soulful vocal stylings. A good deal of Innocence Lost has been made available over the past two years, with material such as “Now Words,” “Pathetic” and “If Your Man Only New” garnering the Swedish prospect considerable kudos en route to album number two. Such freshly cut tracks as “TKO” and “Minnesota” set a strong bar for this personalized and pop savvy take on the modern R&B sound, but it’s the album’s closing moment “Missing You” that rings as the strongest contender amongst this assorted range of material from the TEN approved musician.
The LP doesn’t lean on star power collaborations too much, though the melancholic “Talk About It” alongside Vic Mensa and the Tinashe-assisted “Innocence Lost” show off a very impressive handful of contemporary cosigns. However, these collaborations serve primarily to bolster Hassle’s seamless compatibility with the cream of the modern urban crop.”FTPA” is one of the more solid B-sides that Gorgon City have put their names on to date, showing a deeper and more ambient side to their usually safer and inoffensive house work.
Name drops aside, Hassle carries his own from start to finish – there’s sing along moments, moments of more vulnerable songwriting and a sense that this is an album willing to risk the popular vote in favour of an honest and openly experimental body of work. Streaming may be a singles game where the industry is concerned, but the LP format could learn a thing or two from Erik Hassle’s sophomore offering and the indisputable integrity of this electronic R&B advocate.