I just got hold of Nova Heart’s new EP, entitled Beautiful Boys EP (so nice of them to name it after me and my homies.)
I’ll give my thoughts in a moment, but first, a little introduction.
Nova Heart is a collaboration between Helen Feng (ex-Pet Conspiracy and Free the Birds singer) and Rodion (Roman electronic cowboy). Former Hedgehog bassist Zhu Boxuan and Free the Birds guitarist Wang Zongcan join Helen on stage for live gigs and contributed to the recording.
If you don’t know Helen Feng already, you should. In fact, yours truly interviewed her in these very pages, so we will not go into her background here.
Back to the music: This EP will take over your headspace slowly and intermittently, like some super-stony creeper krypto. It’s one of those albums that you can put on and forget about, simply letting its aroma waft over you, but then your ears prick up and you detect extravagant undertones that you wouldn’t have if you had simply let it fade into the background.
The album’s roots lay in its lulling, italo-disco, four-on-the-floor kick drum pulse and, of course, Feng’s transcendental vocals. The singing is splendidly recorded and makes it seem like this songstress knows inherently some weird truth at which others can only guess.
“My Song 9” breaks out of a synthesizer and vocal embrace into a slow building, tautly tempered fury that burns even as it extinguishes itself back into the ashes of the beat and voice. There is a crescendo of whirring leading into and out of the chorus, like the ignition of a terrible machine that was built to destroy everything, including itself. The song goes out in a blaze of guitars.
“Ethereal” is a good way to describe song number two. Again, the beat beckons us in, until it blends with the synths and guitar to form the backbone of this lumbering, mythical creature. This track, especially, is adorned with those small, special touches to which I alluded before.
“Good Ideas” is a song I can’t shake. Sorry to do this, but I can’t help but think about this as a slightly darker fragment of Blondie’s oeuvre. It’s got that poppy aesthetic, but a dusky hue outlines it, penumbra-like. This song worms inside, forcing you to do strange things, like push the repeat button over and over. I’m not sure if you could necessarily classify this as a summer jam, but this is my jam of the summer, so far.
Finally, “Beautiful Boys” brings the EP to a crashing close. It’s got a small squeal in it that I enjoy very much. It sounds like a scrambled CB transmission from someone with whom you don’t want to converse. I also like the super synthed out bass line and the really groovy outro. The song’s refrain sums up Beautiful Boys EP perfectly: “We can listen all night, listen all night, listen all night…” Yes we can, Helen. Yes we can.
We had some burning questions for Helen upon the 80th spin of the new record so we hit her up via email and she was kind enough to write a medium-length novella back, which merited its own post. So stay tuned for that.