Not a name likely to be forgotten any time soon, New American Hustle come through with yet another full-length album of brilliantly creative and simultaneously satisfying, impressive new songs. Once again, a collection absolutely worth diving into.
Artemis Descends kicks things off, the soundscape offering hints of experimentation and toying slightly with the title concept and the connection between these song-names. For the most part though, what you get is a slightly heightened version of trip hop – electronic rock with contrasting fuzz and delicacy; the weight of the track alongside the softness of the vocal.
Aphrodite Sandals follows and offers more of the same, feeling a little Massive Attack inspired, but with the more organic set-up – you can feel the live-band energy, particularly as the hook falls in – show me your halo – it’s a fully immersive moment.
Heliotrope Station breaks the tension a little afterwards,seeing colourful synths and softness rain down in an energizing, hopeful fashion. Poetic lyrics drive with rising anticipation amidst this, juxtaposing hope with darkness, uncertainty; a warning. The hook storms through as something of a disjointed alternative to Zero 7, intriguing and melodically unique in its own right. The lyrics build further on this nostalgic connection.
Lolita de Sade proves to be a melodic highlight – a simple guitar riff and addictive vocal line make for a gorgeously hypnotic, engaging experience that’s easily an early highlight. Consistently these lyrics provoke unpredictable thinking patterns that suit the experimental, unique nature of the music perfectly well.
An unexpected highlight is Astronaut Song, a characterful track that powerfully fuses a distorted, heavy soundtrack with an almost whispered vocal line and intimate, revealing lyrics. This one has character, it’s recognisable in an instant. Not traditional in any way, but stylish and exciting in going against the grain.
Acoustic urgency comes through for This Love Electric, along with paired vocals that are gorgeously soulful and instantly addictive. Then comes a fast-fingered folk riff, and an increasingly catchy, memorable song that’s simple yet awesomely unique. Another highlight, an easy one to repeat, with a stunning drop to the full-throttle warmth and energy of the completed soundscape. A personal favourite.
Ocean’s End softens the mood again, with a reflective, melancholic and dreamlike arrangement that’s again written with poetry and vulnerability all at once. Slowly but surely the energy rises and envelops you. Five minutes later a guitar solo slams into view to further the reach of creative contrast and finish things up on a high.
Two Riders leads us towards the finish-line with a jarred world of gentle soul and retro organ. Then the project’s title-track takes up the next nine minutes with its powerfully atmospheric intensity and story-line. Layers of heavy metal meet with a tribal rhythm and a vocal soaked in theatrics and strangely intriguing references. While there are threads throughout, this feels like multiple scenes of a film, varying moods and stages of the story that pour through in a sensical yet unexpected manner. The half-way mark leaves you surrounded by optimism and brightness, nothing like the first quarter; and nothing like the final one, either.
A fascinating way to finish, and a great example of the absolute creative freedom and uninhibited artistry that is New American Hustle.