When I was e-mailed by Nine Volt Heart frontman Mikey Lord about the band’s EP, I was intrigued to see what a bunch of teenagers could produce. Sure I’ve featured some very young bands on the blog before and I always get really excited to hear the stuff they put out. Nine Volt Heart are a four-piece from West Yorkshire whose average age is 16-17. They describe their sound as “aggressive pop” and this is certainly a valid answer when attempting to categorise them.
Despite their youth, they’ve actually already been together for two years and the EP What We Came For was released last summer. Their music has some undeniable emo and punk influences embedded in it that feature heavily in their tracks with a fresh energy that runs through their veins. Indeed in some places, it is just a load of chaotic noise but their clever lyric writing and story-telling abilities are unmistakeable.
It begins with Scandalous and a dirty, messy guitar. The angsty vocals aren’t far behind and the American punk vibe is detected right away. Scandalous is definitely an anarchic anthem of the 70s and Mikey’s vocals have a tinge of west coast America to them. The instruments give way to the vocals on the chorus and we hear the nasally tone clearly. Riffs continue to scratch their way through the song, which has so much frantic energy while racing towards its finish.
Get Me Rita Hayworth is in a similar vein. There is a gig setting at the beginning with a crowd cheering before the catchy upbeat riff and steady drums. This time, the vocals take on a more emo stance reminiscent of Gerard Way in the early days of My Chemical Romance. An eerie sounding chorus sees the unpolished vocals go to notes you’ve never heard before and touches back down to a dark, bouncing solo around the two and a half minute mark. The backing vocals which feature intermittently throughout the song are almost like a ritualistic chant that is just thrown in for a tougher image.
The stand out song is certainly Pixie Wings (Sarah Starling), which brings it all right down to a chilled acoustic level. Mikey’s vocals have a more melodic quality while dragging along the ground like so many American emo kings do. The pretty guitar-caused blings in the second half of the song are perfect for setting an ethereal theme and although it kicks up again at the second chorus, it’s such a refreshing change from the other tracks on the EP. At the end, it breaks down into a section which exposes the vocals again before burying them in screeching riffs and loud drumming.
Ending on Aviate, which begins with a fuzzy instrumental which continues throughout and is joined by an angry vocal chance. There is a bit of You Me At Six in the riffs, which I really like and it shows that they can take on many different styles. Mikey’s lead vocal is more pop-punk than it has ever been and fiery energy that powers it transforms into a metallic instrumental. I also love how they have cleverly slipped in the title of the EP into the lyrics of Aviate -“Is this what we came for?” before finishing on a moshpit frenzy and throwing the curveball of an eerie piano at the end.
One reason I love this EP is because it raises questions about what kind of music it is. They have incorporated a lot of styles and speeds and even vocal abilities. Just in four tracks they’ve shown that they can do angry, lovesick and eerie, which is pretty impressive really. I love bands that have multiple facets and can keep coming back with something different. Yes, three out of four of these tracks are a little too shouty for me but they have a lot of variety and talent.