Meet Michael Lovett, a 24-year-old art school student, multi-instrumentalist, unassuming: a formidable talent. For a time he played bass in his big brother’s band Your Twenties, but all the while, in the sanctity of his bedroom, he was quietly working on his own material.
Inspired as much by Austrian composer Anton Bruckner’s motets and Brian Wilson, as Aaliyah’s method of singing softly (check the a capella of ‘Try Again’), Lovett’s falsetto harmonies cocoon, and his melodies are sensual and stirring even as he sings about formatting a hard drive (‘Base64 Love’).
And while the music melds R&B and retro-futuristic synth-pop, Lovett’s lyrics tell of strange happenings in stranger environs. ‘Nzca’ sees a man fall in love with his spaceship, while ‘Atoms & Axes’ finds two sweethearts searching for each other across a nuclear wasteland. But alongside album opener ‘Compass Points’, the highlight is ‘Okinawa Channels’ – all crisp beats, a lithe hook and a heart-surging string sample at the halfway point. And a story about interfering transmissions from an alternate dimension. It’s the album in a nutshell: supreme nerdiness married to a press-repeat groove. Nzca/Lines is exacting, soulful, sexy and imaginative; début of the year.