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Being Bailrigg FM’s Head of Music, I am usually inundated with emails from both promoters and record labels; Nova Heart is undoubtedly the best band that I have ever found whilst wading through these digital multitudes. The email that brought them to my attention opened very simply: a short description of the group’s lead singer Helen Feng as the “Queen of Beijing Rock” and “the Blondie of China”.
Really now, how could my interest not be piqued?
The band’s music is fantastic. It is a blend of electronica, awesomely smooth basslines and Feng’s superlative vocals. In their track ‘Lackluster No.’, the introduction features a simple electronic drum beat accompanied by both bass and a Chinese spoken-word vocal performance; these pave the way to the entry of Feng’s lead vocals:
“She’s got lights in her eyes…”
The words are softly sung, their tone delicately mellow; by this point during my first listen I was enchanted, but it was only the start of my excavation: quickly navigating to their SoundCloud page, I found the rest of their EP – entitled Beautiful Boys – and my appetite was adequately sated. But I wanted more.
In only four songs, Nova Heart had cemented their place on my list of bands to look out for.
On the release of their debut album I was fortunate enough to receive a copy from their promoter, and this LP is collectively fresh and stimulating to me. The longest track is ‘The Queen Is Dead’, driven by a standard drum and bass arrangement before the enchanting words of Feng’s vocals enter: the singer’s songwriting is the highlight here, lyrics such as “from the back of the room I see you cutting your scars” particularly grabbing my attention. The imagery created in these songs really do rivetingly engage the listener, elevating the band above their contemporaries; the track ‘Evil’ in particular conveys their willingness to experiment, featuring a hooking, swirling riff that is matched in its intensity only by the psychedelic synth arrangements that add to the unconventional qualities in the band’s sound. The vocals are twisted, panning from ear to ear, the pitch alternating downwards to gravelly lows resulting in an intensified rendition from Feng. Ultimately, ‘Evil’ is absolutely a song that captures Nova Heart’s brilliance – the album as a whole is refreshingly original, but this track in particular exhibits their obvious talent.
When Helen Feng (vocals, keys), Bo Xuan (bass) and Shi Lu a.k.a. Atom (drums) first came together in 2012 to form Nova Heart, I have to wonder if they knew that they would create futuristic sounds that I am convinced will still hold up many years down the line…? Indeed, that may be quite a bold statement for me to make, but I do believe that they have created musical moments that will last in their innovative qualities for decades.
All that’s left for me to say is that this feat is as exceptional as their talent. So check ‘em out.