Brilliant songwriting, impressively organic instrumentation, beautifully engaging, soulful and quirky vocals – and that’s just the opening track. New American Hustle return with a full album of classically alternative yet broadly captivating hits, and Flowers starts things off on an incredibly strong foot.
Heart Treatment follows and immediately injects that unpredictable, experimental aura from NAH’s previous projects. Still the soulful vocal guides you, still the trip-hop calm washes over with unquestionable skill and intention. Things move into a slightly jazz-infused groove for the latter half, then you’re back in the dream-land with these oddly effected vocals, and these deeply poetic images that take you somewhere else entirely.
Fire From A Phoenix aims high and brings through an industrial beat alongside an Americana-soaked layer of guitar, with some retro keys and a brief, scattered vocal line that’s quickly memorable. The call out to be saved is gentle yet effective, connecting in an instant, and once again those poetic undertones meet with human emotion in a subtly powerful way. A personal favourite, contrast is utilized brilliantly – rock grit juxtaposed with breathy, whispered vocals.
Then we move through To The Sky, and a powerful drum-line marches alongside a surprisingly gentle vocal that again proves revealing and consistently intimate. Things progress far beyond expectations as always, taking the listener on a fairly incomparable journey through sound and thought and rising intensity.
Afterwards, Vaporwave Slave feels fresh from the set of Blade Runner. Coming in at a humble seven minutes forty, the track is something of an artistic masterpiece, fusing aspects of Massive Attack with that melodic prowess, creative freedom and thoughtful songwriting that is strictly New American Hustle.
Prayer From The Edge redirects things massively, adopting a fully chaotic trip-hop aura, with a disjointed choir-like thread that brings a touch of Gospel and a sense of rising anticipation. A thick bass-line and dashes of piano break the tension just at the right moment.
The album’s title track switches things up again, or rather calms them down to a thoughtful and haunting yet strangely soothing, echoing ambiance. This grows to be beautiful, another highlight – simple guitar, a simple melody that slowly washes over. Powerful poetry and insight once again, brilliant writing.
Before things finish it’s fairly easy to label this album as a definite favourite from the band so far. Then again, head back into any of their projects, and you soon realise that nothing is ever simply thrown together – these are the underground hits the music world craves; and turns back to again and again. Timeless, refreshing and ever-creative music.
Siren Song brings a hit of EDM-meets-rock towards the end, a bold and energizing moment of instrumental fullness, prompting you to consider a live show. Then Meat Grinder’s Wife turns on the experimental and strangely soulful, smokey-jazz-bar vibes. The story fascinates, but the music is a little too enjoyable to pick up on every line the first time around. Another highlight, a fantastic audio journey.
Disco Whip brings things to a poignant finish, a superbly skillful, considerate soundscape, which envelops the listener step by step – moving from weight to delicacy and back again. That voice keeps emotion at the forefront, but the instrumental breaks take over entirely in between. An explosive, sci-fi-soaked end to a rather impeccable, vastly enjoyable album.
Absolutely a recommend, and a highlight from 2019 to date. Will undoubtedly be revisiting.