On their second album, ‘Change Of State’, the London quartet Novella have anchored their beguiling, reverb-soaked dream-pop to current socio-political anxieties on a spiky, hook-laden set that manages to find a sweet balance between ideological thrust and melodic breeze.
Recorded in Stoke Newington with Ultimate Painting/Veronica Falls singer-guitarist James Hoare at the production helm, the group’s follow-up to their well-received debut ‘Land’ is a crisply produced, stylistically varied collection of psych-pop tunes that contemplates themes of freedom of movement and thought, insurrection and cultural identity over a bed of tightly locked, razor-sharp melodies and swelling guitar lines.
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The opening cut, ‘Does The Island Know’, lures the listener in with its eerie approximation of a guitar-pop version of Broadcast’s spooked motorik, whilst the catchy, invigorating title track rides on a wave of insistent, choppy chords, Suki Sou’s thick, treacly bass lines and lead singer Hollie Warren’s dreamy delivery. ‘A Thousand Feet’ lays bare a generation’s despair about the EU referendum over spidery guitars and a loping beat: “And I feel this country move away/All our senses scream to stay/And I feel the cold drop a thousand feet/ You’ve taken us here and now I fear/That there’s nothing left”.
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‘Desert’ laces guitars around the pretty lilt of humming keyboards with deft simplicity, ‘Elements’ introduces a tilt towards a Doors/Jefferson Airplane sound and the stirring ‘Thun’ contemplates issues of borders and separation through a Velvet Underground-inspired evocation of a terrifying car journey through the titular Swiss town. ‘Come In’ is a shivering burst of Krautrock whose gorgeous, sun-kissed brevity and pulsating synths leave you begging for more.
‘Change Of State’ is a cohesive, accomplished treatise on shifts in socio-political discourse that sustains a powerful mood of disillusion-drenched, atmospheric builds, articulate energy and deep yearning. The gravity of subject matter is matched by the slick, uncluttered vibrancy of the songs and the warmth of the analogue production, with the subtle, measured interplay between each band member enticing you into an absorbing, altered state.