The first half-minute, indeed the first ten seconds set the terms. This whitewashed chorus is the sound of inner dissonance, nothing really to do with the external world of instruments or processing. This is a place of quiet disorder, of serotonin failure. It is a relief when the mournful cello joins the slight vocals. Rapturous when the sharp cracks of snare drum part the ether and echoes and unbalance.
The song is named “Badger” and it opens the ravishing EP Future Nostalgia for sale, from Edinburgh-based three-piece Hiva Oa. “Badger” and the following track “Urban” will appear on the full-length album The Awkward Hello, Handshake, Kiss, slated for a May release by Mini50 Records. The imprint is curated by Euan McMeeken, who fronts The Kays Lavelle and has a forthcoming collaboration with Matthew Collings, who mastered this EP.
And back to it. The album finds more discernible rhythms with “Urban” and “Ghosts,” consecutive indie folk tracks with fragile hum-along verses and, in the former case, an aching cello line. The slow march of drum and uncomplicated acoustic guitar keep “Urban” afloat between harmonica lines, and the sloppy hi-fi ethic stands in clear contrast to the clear-lensed unraveling of “Badger.” The latter of the two tracks is warm and personal, and brings the EP title into better view. Album closer “Morning” is clearly mispelled: a bereaved, sometimes distant, and — in the end — furious piece of composing for voice, cello, and electric guitar. A breathtaking finish, and the promise of a spectacular follow-up.
The band takes their name from one of the French Polynesian islands on which Paul Gauguin spent the last eight years of his life. He made the lush, hidden place famous with such paintings as The Sorcerer of Hiva Oa (Marquesan Man in the Red Cape). Fitting, somehow.
Stream Future Nostalgia for sale, and come back soon for our review of the forthcoming album.