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Scoundrel Days

A-Ha

℗ 1986 Warner Brothers Records 7599 25501

A-Ha  1986  Scoundrel Days

While not quite as strong as the band's debut, Scoundrel Days is still a-ha succeeding as a marketed "pretty boy" band which can connect musically and lyrically as much as any musical sacred cow. The opening two songs alone make for one of the best one-two opening punches around: the tense edge of the title track, featuring one of Morten Harket's soaring vocals during the chorus and a crisp, pristine punch in the music, and "The Swing of Things," a moody, elegant number with a beautiful synth/guitar arrangement (plus some fine drumming courtesy of studio pro Michael Sturgis) and utterly lovelorn lyrical sentiments that balance on the edge of being overheated without quite going over. Although the rest of the disc never quite hits as high as the opening, it comes close more often than not. A definite downturn is the band's occasional attempts to try and prove themselves as a "real" band by rocking out, as on "I've Been Losing You" there's really no need for it, and as a result they sound much more "fake," ironically enough. Other songs can perhaps only be explained by the need to translate lyrics "We're Looking for the Whales" isn't an environmental anthem, and neither is "Cry Wolf," but both also don't really succeed in using nature as romantic metaphor. When a-ha are on, though, they're on "October" snakes along on a cool bass/keyboard arrangement and a whispery vocal from Harket; "Maybe Maybe" is a quirky little pop number that's engagingly goofy; while "Soft Rains of April" captures the band at its most dramatic, with the string synths giving Harket a perfect bed to launch into a lovely vocal, concluding with a sudden, hushed whisper. The '80s may be long gone, but Scoundrel Days makes clear that not everything was bad back then. Ned Raggett.

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Scoundrel Days

(Pal Waaktaar)

Was that somebody screaming
It wasn't me for sure
I lift my head up from uneasy pillows
Put my feet on the floor
Cut my wrist on a bad thought
And head for the door

Outside on the pavement
The dark makes no noise
I can feel the sweat on my lips
Leaking into my mouth
I'm heading out for the steep hills
They're leaving me no choice

And see as our lives are in the making
We believe through the lies and the hating
That love goes free

For want of an option
I run the wind 'round
I dream pictures of houses burning
Never knowing nothing else to do
With death comes the morning
Unannounced and new

Was it too much to ask for
To pull a little weight
They forgive anything but greatness
These are scoundrel days
And I'm close to calling out their names
As pride hits my face

See as our lives are in the making
We believe through their lies and the hating
That love goes free through scoundrel days

I reach the edge of town
I've got blood in my hair
Their hands touch my body
From everywhere
But I know that I've made it
As I run into the air

And see as our lives are in the making
We believe through the lies and the hating
That love goes free
Through scoundrel days

The Swing of Things

(Pal Waaktaar)

They say the world's an eventful place
You give me news
I don't want to know
You say that I should care
That I should speak my mind

Oh, but how can I speak of the world
Rushing by
With a lump in my throat
And tears in my eyes
Have we come to the point of no turning back
Or is it still time to get into
The swing of things

Let us walk through this windless city
I'll go on till the winter gets me
"Sleep..." you wrote "sleep, my dear"
In a letter somewhere

Oh, but how can I sleep with your voice in my head
And an ocean between us
And room in my bed
Have I come to the point where I'm losing the grip
Or is it still time to get into
The swing of things

When she glows in the dark
And I'm weak by the sight
Of this breathtaking beauty
In which I can hide
There is a worldful out there
Of people I fear

But given time I'll get into
The swing of things

Yes, when she glows in the dark and I'm struck by the sight
I know that I'll need this for the rest of my life

What have I done
What lies I have told
I've played games with the ones that rescued my soul
Have I come to the point where I'm losing the grip
Or is it still time to get into
The swing of things

I've Been Losing You

(Pal Waaktaar)

It wasn't the rain that washed away
Rinsed out the colours of your eyes
Putting the gun down on the bedside table
I must have realized
It wasn't the rain
That made no difference
And I could have sworn it wasn't me
Yet I did it all so coldly
almost slowly

Plain for all to see
Oh c'mon please now
Talk to me
Tell me; things I could find helpful
How can I stop now

Is there nothing I can do
I have lost my way
I've been losing you

I can still hear our screams competing
You're hissing your s's like a snake
Now in the mirror stands
Half a man
I thought no one could break
It wasn't the rain
That made no difference
nervously drumming on: Run away

But I want the guilt to get me
Thoughts to wreck me
Preying on my mind
Please now
Talk to me
Tell me; things I could find helpful
For how can I stop now

Is there nothing I can do
I have lost my way
I've been losing you

October

(Pal Waaktaar)

Dawn awaits a sleepless, English town
Of coloured gray
Here I roam the streets without you
As summer fades away

down in the city at nights
The cold wind blows

Wherever you may be right now
It must be getting late
You're probably asleep already
I am wide awake

down in the city at nights

"Don't be lonely" so you've told me
But don't you worry now
Loneliness can be ignored
And time has shown me how

down in the city
I'm missing you so much

Down in the city
Down in the city

Manhattan Skyline

(Pal Waaktaar)

We sit and watch umbrellas fly
I'm trying to keep my newspaper dry
I hear myself say,
"My boat's leaving now"
 so we shake hands and cry
Now I must wave goodbye
Wave goodbye

You know
I don't want to cry again
I don't want to cry again
Don't want to say goodbye
I don't want to cry again
I don't want to run away
Don't want to race this pain
I'll never see your face again

Oh but how
How can you say
That I didn't try
You see things in the depths of my eyes
That my love's run dry
No

We leave to their goodbyes
I've come to depend on the look in their eyes
My blood's sweet for pain
The wind and the rain bring back words of a song
And they say wave goodbye
Wave goodbye

But you know
I don't want to fall again
Don't want to know this pain
Don't want another friend
Don't want to try again
Don't want to see you hurt
Don't let me see you hurt
I don't want to cry again
I'll never see your face again

How can you say
That I didn't try
You know I did
You see things in the depths of my eyes
That my love's run dry

 so I read to myself
A chance of a lifetime to see new horizons
On the front page
A black and white picture of
Manhattan Skyline

Cry Wolf

(Mags Pal Waaktaar)

"Night I left the city,
I dreamt of a wolf"

He came from where the winds are cold
And truth is seen through keyholes
 strange longings never sleep
Now he's come where no hearts beat

Cry wolf
Time to worry
Cry wolf
Time to worry

You can start, but you cannot stop
You give in, but you can't give up
You can tell all your desperate jokes
To a world that puts
Love on hold

Cry wolf
Time to worry
Cry wolf
Time to worry now

 the sunken-in eyes
And the pain in his cries
A shape in the dark

Cry wolf
Time to worry
Cry wolf
Time to worry now

We're Looking for the Whales

(Pal Waaktaar)

One left low left two who left high
They seem so hard to find
Three came twice took once the time
To search

We're looking for a little bewildered girl
We're looking for a little bewildered girl
We're looking for the whales

Restlessness is in our genes
Time won't wear it off
Born into this world with our eyes wide open
Girl

We're looking for a little bewildered girl
We're looking for a little bewildered girl
We're looking for the whales

I found angels
Beached outside your doors

Don't you set those lonely eyes on me
We're looking for the whales
We're looking for the whales

The Weight of the Wind

Your face looked new against the town
You've come to lose some memories
Like you I've come to touch new grounds
You want to lose

The weight of the wind
Rests hard on your shoulders
Bringing you down
The one that you love
Will never be found

You speak into the falling rain
Words you'd lost, but found again
You see their snakey arms entwined
So clear and cruel
In your jealous mind
You've got to lose

The weight of the wind
Hard on your shoulders
Getting you down
The one that you love
Can never be found

Maybe, Maybe

(Mags)

Maybe you were joking
When you said that you were walking out on me
Maybe, maybe

Maybe I was joking
When I said that I was running out on you
Maybe, maybe

I could be wrong, so wrong
I could be wrong, so wrong
Yes, I could be wrong

I don't know, but it's been said decisions travel far from heart to head
Maybe, maybe

Maybe it was over
When you chucked me out the Rover at full speed
Maybe, maybe

I could be wrong, so wrong
I could be wrong, so wrong
Yes, I could be so wrong

Soft Rains of April

(Pal Waaktaar)

The soft rains of April are over
The soft rains of April are over, over

Anybody home now
I am on the phone now, please...

The soft rains of April are over
The ferry across the water to Dover, over

Anybody home now
I am on the phone, oh I'd like to go back
Is it raining back home
I'm so alone

Just got up today
And my thoughts are miles away
With you

Well, they gave me four years
Three more to go
Keep writing letters
Time's passing so slow

The soft rains of April are over
The soft rains of April are over
Over