London sextet Bleeding Heart Narrative are set to release their first EP Bison with Brainlove Records, following up last year’s Tongue Tangled Hair.
Known for their deft ability to take pop structures and shape them around minimal electronica, melodic vocal harmonies and lush string arrangements, Bison follows suit, but what perhaps seems most surprising on an initial listen is the light feel of this latest effort. It is still undeniably the work of Oliver Barrett and his cohorts and yet it’s as if the cobwebs have been pulled away to reveal the melodic, almost lighthearted pop at its centre. Through thick instrumentation that builds to anthemic climaxes, as on track two ‘HAL Passes the Turing Test’, where clapping drumstick, male/female harmonies and circular arpeggios on strings build up to a more guitar based break down of crashing symbols and thrashing guitar, they use their vast array of influences from the traditional to the genre breaking to their advantage.
Blending a mix of post-rock, instrumentals and bold vocals they at times draw comparisons to Arcade Fire, and on ‘Mysterious Cults’ particularly. However it’s something in the way BHN build and construct around a single opening note that sets them against many of their contemporaries. Intensely listenable with an ear for a melody the vocals on Bison feel summery and joyous, while the percussion pertains a kind of celestial beauty that flits from the subtle to the raucous with a simple slight of hand. ‘Mysterious Cults’ ends in a spookish, unsettling crescendo of white noise, which bleeds seamlessly into ‘Ghost Cats Disappear into the Night’; a haze of static and metallic sounds of ear piercing percussion and strings that make way for the core acoustic melody and a hushed, barely audible female mantra slowly revealing itself to repeat again and again the song’s title. It’s the closer however that truly encapsulates all they have created and all they musically stand for: electronic opening, immaculate layering of choruses of vocals led by violin and cello in place of the traditional guitar set up. It’s a shame it’s over all too soon.
Bleeding Heart Narrative, now after five releases have surely succeeded in creating a sound entirely their own, playing off the beautiful and haunting, while mixing a stirring ambiance with an vibrant, paean immediacy. As Bison plays out it becomes darker, dirgier towards its midpoint, finding a way to balance all the opposites it employs to create what is ultimately a warm and celebratory sound.
Latest LIve Dates
Oct 22nd SWN Festival, Cardiff, Wales
Oct 27th Supporting Bastile @ Green Door, Brighton
Nov 17th “Bison” release LAUNCH, Wheelbarrow, London
Nov 18th “Sleeping Panda Winter Micro-Festival” Westcoast Bar, Margate
Nov 26th Cube Cinema, Bristol