Released through the legendary Flying Nun label, the new album ‘Not Your Cupid from Tāmaki Makaurau’s Erny Belle is an absolute treasure. Delicate and nuanced, it has an indie pop style with a folk tinge and yet there is a electronic voltage throughout that is thrilling. Belle’s vocals reminds me at times of Sarah Cracknell from St Etienne or Harriette Wheeler from The Sundays with its gossamer silk touch and air of melancholy that weaves in and out of the tracks.
Above all, the album is filled with breath takingly beautiful melodies that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, bolstered by rich instrumentation..
Opening track ‘Bowman’ has a delicate filigree of strings that haunt the background, over classical guitars, supporting Belle’s velvet vocals. The song flickers and burns with a subtle intensity, an almost sitar-like twist to the guitar sound. The layered harmonies add an indelible burnish as the songs slowly builds up, transfixing and mesmerising. There is the kind of instrumental lusciousness found in tracks by Tindersticks haunting, atmospheric and majestic.
‘Unchained’ increases the velocity a little, while maintaining the rich sound. Belle’s vocal are to the fore, with a shouty chorus behind here creating a fascinating contrast.
‘Pitt Stop’ has a dappled sound that skips lightly through the air and a cute chant with a sixties blush. Belle’s lyrics have a wry sense of humour that augments the delivery. Guaranteed to lift the heaviest of hearts.
‘Crypto’ captures the zeitgeist with its lyrics and is burnished with a sitar sound and sky scraping chorus.
‘Midnight Madness’ has a dark undercurrent, with a sort of Lynchian blush and a velvet gothic presence, stately, atmospheric and restrained, burning like a fuse. This continues in ‘Stay Golden’ which coasts along like a country drive at dusk: moody, atmospheric and floating, suspended in ether.
‘Inertia’ is delicate and yearning, threaded with a weeping melancholia as is ‘C’est La Vie’ with its dual vocals, dappling guitars and shout backing vocals.
The final title track is imbued with the same sort of weary romanticism that threads its way though the album, delivered in a delicate ambrosial style.
Says Belle on the release of ‘Not Your Cupid’:
I didn’t think this was all possible. It feels like a fever dream! Roundhead Studios is such a luscious space and we all worked together with an unspoken synergy that felt very predestined. I’m grateful for the love everyone poured in. I laughed myself to death. Thank you to my band – Tiare Kelly, Jackson Hobbs, Dave Khan, Rewi McLay and Navakatoa Tekela-Pule. Thanks to De Stevens (A force of nature), who mixed, engineered and co-produced the record. Thanks, Semisi Ma’ia’i for co-piloting the vocal production. A dream come true.
Erny Belle Not Your Cupid North Island album tour dates:
Friday 24th November – The Great Hall, Polish Association, Wellington
Saturday 25th November – The Great Hall, Polish Association, Wellington
Friday 8th December – The Wintergarden, Auckland
Tickets onsale from moshtix.co.nz
Erny Belle also features on the lineup for Laneway Festival NZ in 2024.
Feature Photograph: Matt Hurley