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Hanne Hukkelberg (NO) – “Stardust”

Hanne Hukkelberg‘s “Stardust” sounds thoroughly 2010s, but she’s been putting out music—and receiving acclaim for it—for well over a decade. Actually, “Stardust” celebrates 15 years of Hanne Hukkelberg impressing critics such as Pitchfork and The Guardian, and it scans as the work of an artist unlikely to lose touch with what’s made her special from her very earliest days.

“Stardust” is a new beginning for Hukkelberg in at least one way: it’s her first release for Brilliance, the Norwegian label behind eternally fantastic acts including Intertwine, Misty Coast, and really the entire Diamond Club family. Otherwise, “Stardust” displays an artist staying in the lane in which she’s found the most success while still innovating, melding her delicate, angelic, mid-range vocals with ominously swirling synths, playfully clapping percussion, and chipper but wintry xylophones. Hukkelberg gracefully combines these elements to provide a spine-tingling, lucid art pop experience.

As with previous releases, “Stardust” sees Hukkelberg calling on the help of others to turn the brilliant visions in her head into a cohesive, effective song. Fellow Norwegian artist Halie and American songwriters Victoria Zaro and Brittany B teamed up with Hukkelberg in Los Angeles to complete the song, which Hukkelberg then produced. “It was very inspiring working with so many great song-writers,” says Hukkelberg, “and I think the result is a beautiful, dreamy, and quirky antipop-song.”

Her description nails it. Hukkelberg’s delicate approach—aplomb combined with restraint, vastness combined with moderation—keeps “Stardust” limber and exciting, a dynamic piece that doesn’t need to explode to command attention. “My favorite distractions, my latest bad habits/avoiding the static as long as I can,” she sings, and with music this pristine, it’s shocking to hear that the noise was ever a concern.

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