‘Lackluster No’ by Nova Heart (Single)
‘Lackluster No’ could just announce the arrival of a group who are already stars in a nation of 1.3 billion
ova Heart’s Helen Fang has been described variously as “the queen of Beijing rock’” and “the Blondie of China”. Having just played a well received set at Glastonbury Festival, Nova Heart release their new single Lackluster No and start with a bassline that nods to one of the instrument’s finest exponents.
Peter Hook is an obvious reference point here, such is the throbbing and addictive simplicity of the bass. It is, though, another English influence that holds strongest. This becomes apparent in the song’s anti-chorus – with Fang easing back on the vocals and opting for a prolonged moan – where a guitar lick is poured in and confirms the sway The xx have had upon Nova Heart’s songwriting.
Yet, despite the obvious debts to some extremely well regarded artists, there’s more going on under the bonnet than simple pastiche. There’s the brilliantly contrasting, computer-in-meltdown synth lines and enough in the production to hint that there’s been a real care given to ensuring Lackluster No moves effortlessly between its composite elements.
With more than a little fanfare felt for Nova Heart in China, it’s tempting to wonder just how big they might become in the UK and US. There is the worry that, with The xx having mastered the moody indie-synth&B approach to the extent that they’re almost a genre unto themselves, any artist who sounds like them won’t have the capacity to surprise. However, that belies the impact of sheer quality and in Lackluster No Nova Heart demonstrate that they have bags of it. With an album due in October, this could be a ‘you heard it first’ moment.
Verdict: Graceful and catchy synth-based indie