Album Review: Noak Hellsing – YESTERYEAR
Insanely talented Swedish singer-songwriter Noak Hellsing presents "YESTERYEAR" – a six-track EP scheduled for release on October 20.

The record opens with "Get Real". The arrangement creates a warm cloudy coat for the extremely sensual and soulful vocals. There are many layers in the song: joyful brassy synths, warm piano chords, relaxed funky guitars and a wealth of little extra vocal touches that keep the song interesting and fresh throughout. However, the strongest element of the composition is the vocal melody of the hook, that brings to mind a palette of references, from classic soul to 80s pop to 2000s British soulful crooners like Craig David.

"Die Without Letting You Know" starts with warm acoustic guitar and relaxed tambourine. However, the creative use of reverberation makes the sound borderline ambient. The rest of the production that kicks in later borrows from funk and romantic 80s pop ballads and relies heavily on warm moody synths. This approach, along with the soft vocal delivery and a touch of vulnerability in the songwriting, reminded us of Shura, while the pop appeal of the song makes it somewhat of a more left-field-leaning indie-pop answer to Harry Styles.

"When Shadows Go Home" digs even deeper for sonic colours. The arrangement and mixing have hints of surf and spaghetti western music in their approach to guitar sound, while the piano and tambourine bring to mind Motown hits. One of the song's many earworms is its catchy whistle melody, doubled by a lead synth.

"Break My Heart" has probably the most emotional vocal performance on the record. The voice sounds raw and vulnerable, in spite of the pronounced use of vocal tuning to colour the sound timbrally. The production is simple, with just piano supporting the singer. The piano's sound is paradoxically transparent, sombre and bassy at the same time, providing just the right mood for the track.

"When You Think of Me" is extremely groovy, thanks to its crisp drums and fat bass. The bass is probably the most prominent instrument in the mix, and its part is unexpectedly memorable. The vocals here are more breathy and textural than on other songs, creating a soft and romantic vibe.

The EP closes with "Enemy", a slow and sentimental ballad that takes time to build and then explode with the massive chorus shrouded in warm synths. The minimalistic yet dense production highlights the song's intimate character.

Overall, the EP is a perfect showcase of Noak Hellsing's songwriting talents, with every song carrying massive potential to become a worldwide radio hit.