Words by Abi Whistance
Nova Hands have been on my radar for a while. It’s difficult to say exactly when they became one of the most thrilling bands in Leeds for me, but I just knew they’d be holding that top spot securely for an age to come. Yet despite a fantastic back catalogue, the math-rockers held their cards a little too close to their chest for my liking; releasing material in trickling fashion, letting a song or two slip through the cracks when necessity arose.
N N_A-D arrived after a month of weekly drips and dribbles. A full-fledged, hour-long LP finally produced, and the bar couldn’t have been set higher. I’d set myself up for certain disappointment.
I cannot speak fondly enough of this record, no matter how hard I try. Not only is being that nice out of character for me, it’s also truly impossible to describe how fulfilled I feel with it in my hands. N N_A-D makes you feel like it’s about to burst with intensity, then takes you to roads Nova Hands have never ventured fully down before. It’s remarkably hopeful in sound; abrasive and harsh elements swing into the most uplifting vocal lines, treading the line carefully between desperation and faith.
Incredibly complicated but not self-indulgent, they’ve taken on an impossible task of mastering math-rock and emerging victorious. What’s left to impress really is down to the intricacy of it all, the drums flickering between being a phenomenal central focus to a supporting role in the (truly) grand scheme of things. There’s no need to sheath high complexity to mask imperfections here, tracks like Virtue Signal play through in note-perfect clarity.
Loud to louder still, this record goes chin-juttingly hard. Opener Beware Knives reminds us of why we were already in awe of the five-piece, their sound huge and operatic at times. But Nova Hands won’t let us forget that they can hit those softer notes too; B F F F a tender offering that lands pretty nicely at the halfway mark. Delicately symphonic, we’re given around three minutes of calm before the storm arrives. In true NH fashion, a rager emerges to catapult you into the final four minutes left of a track that gives as much as it possibly can.
N N_A-D is masterful. It doesn’t take an appreciator of the alternative to acknowledge that this is crafty, homecooked magic.