Bristol-based duo Jadu Heart began releasing music in 2016, and their new album Hyper Romance quickly follows from their full-length 2019 debut Melt Away. Melt Away took inspiration from psych-rock greats, scattered with twisting synths and glittering guitars whilst also featuring Mura Masa, a long time supporter of the duo.
Jadu Heart is a concept originally based on the alter-egos of its two members, Alex and Diva. Early EPs were based on the story of two characters Dina & Faro, cursed inside an ancient temple. Hyper Romance was recorded in a studio under the shadow of a gothic Church in Bristol, which Jadu Heart say had a direct impact on the album’s creation.
Glitchy drum machines and distorted vocal textures sometimes replace the more organic sounds of their 2019 debut, but the same influences remain throughout. Hyper Romance stands out as an impressive and cohesive project from the world Jadu Heart wants to share.
From the outset, Hyper Romance opens with a different feel to its predecessor. ‘Another Life’ instantly transports the listener to a distant plain as raw acoustic guitars blend with analog drum machine sounds, manipulated vocals and spacey arpeggios. Jadu Heart’s vocals sound more mature across the album – gone is the youthful exuberance of their 2017 breakthrough single ‘I’m a Kid’. Instead the vocals are darker, filled with more emotion and angst as the album’s themes centre on love and despair. The psychedelic, highly modulated guitars of their debut are replaced by distorted and reverb-drenched stoner rock counterparts. “I want to feel dead, again’ the duo unsettlingly whisper on the second track.
The sound design is ambitious across the album, notably on ‘Woman’ which blends industrial sounding synthesizers with heavily autotuned vocals and bluesy electric guitars. Despite this, the album’s most beautiful moments are when the duo step back from the psychedelic murmurings of their production into more stripped back spaces. ‘Day by Day’ is led by beautiful acoustic guitar pickings, allowing Diva and Alex’s vocals to shine through in an intimate opening minute. In addition, the simplicity of ‘Caroline’ shines through. On some tracks however, the intricate psychedelic production comes together to fantastic effect. ‘Burning Hour’ is a highlight, with flowing synths and guitars combining beautifully with the duo’s vocals and driving drums to create a constantly rising four and a half minute journey.
Hyper Romance is a dark and beautiful sophomore album, which sees Jadu Heart take a step away from the psych-rock of their debut. The more stripped-back moments of the album are sometimes the most effective, but Jadu Heart do a fantastic job of creating their own sonic world across the album. Their unique and constantly evolving sounds and songwriting are mesmerising throughout the record – keep an eye out for their tour in 2021.