Highasakite’s debut full-length Silent Treatment is populated by an extensive cast of colorful characters with painful stories — from low-grade delinquents (“Since Last Wednesday”), to abusive lovers (“Leaving No Traces”), to a digger attempting to make it all the way to Japan (“Hiroshima”), to any number of broken hearts (all of the above). It’s a lot of emotional anguish to digest, but it goes down smoothly on the back of the band’s widescreen, shape-shifting pop, which contains traces of Vampire Weekend-style afro-beats, jazz, and the occasional Spaghetti Western homage.
Over the course of 10 songs, the band presses a panoply of instruments into service. But for all the zithers, organs and different forms of percussion, the real magic comes from frontwoman Ingrid Helene Håvik and her seductive, siren-like vocals. Håvik foregoes a fixed identity, shifting from artful slurs to throaty yodels and girlish whispers. Hers is the kind of otherworldly trill that can render a libation-soaked encounter with a married man (“Iran”) ethereal rather than sketchy, and turns any shade of sadness divine. Silent Treatment is an ambitious sprawling debut, and Highasakite comes out of the gate owning every one of its cinematic twists and turns.