It’s may have been a while since you thought about NZCA Lines. After starting to find success with his brilliant debut album, Michael Lovett seemed to disappear just as he was starting to gain traction. His brand of Eighties synth-pop seemed to be the refined answer to the turn of the decades batch of bands mixing squelchy synths and punk ideals.
NZCA Lines was always sleeker than the likes of Klaxons and CSS, like Lovett had taken all the synths and disco basslines to an underground club in Berlin instead of an East London boozer.
Since this first album, NZCA Lines has grown from just being Michael’s solo project. After finishing up the debut, Michael became part of Metronomy’s live setup and when he decided to restart the project he added former Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley and Sarah Jones, who has spent time playing with both New Young Pony Club and Hot Chip. This new experience has changed NZCA Lines from the introverted, sometimes timid, one-man pop loner, into the bigger and more confident incarnation that we find on Infinite Summer.
You should obviously never judge a book by the cover, but Infinite Summer's sleek Eighties sci-fi-indebted cover, sporting the kind of sleek runway and perfect sunset you’d expect to find in A Brave New World neatly sums up what you’ll find inside. Indeed, it’s the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, J.G. Ballard, Clifford Simak and Philip K. Dick that have influenced the album, and it is set in a dystopian world, one that Michael says is about to be destroyed by the sun. As someone not well versed in sci-fi I constructed my own, slightly more layman's definition. Where NZCA Lines’ debut was Blade Rider, sleek, finding space in silence, menacing, Infinite Summer is Star Wars, a huge, bombastic party album. Yes, there are similarities between the two, but Infinite Summer is more likely to be playing in the background of a party.
It’s the massive crunchy basslines and skittering disco hi-hats that dominate the album that make it so much easier to dance to. ‘Two Hearts’ has a huge drop that Example would consider a bit too much, ‘How Long Does It Take’s huge Eighties stadium drums are complemented by a ridiculous Thin Lizzy guitar tapping and even one of the more restrained tracks, ‘Jessica’ has it’s delicate male/female vocals underlined by heavy drums. If the future is going to sound as fun as NZCA Lines make it sound, I’m there earth-destroying-sun or no earth-destroying-sun.
As highbrow as the influences are, it’s hard not to pick out the clear influence of the more contemporary kind. Although it’s easy to draw Metronomy comparisons, their influence indisputably runs throughout the album, through the harmonies, the complex, interweaving layers of synth. Indeed, probably the easiest way to sum up the album is to describe it as Metronomy’s ‘Love Underlines’ re-written into a 12 song album; basically weird electro-synth but with an ear for a great hook.
And I think that’s what makes the album stand out ultimately: hooks. Whilst there are many other bands doing futuristic disco, many of which band members have worked with, NZCA Lines’ unrelenting quest for a great hook and massive chorus pushes them ahead of the pack.
8Christian Northwood 's Score