Despite this being their debut EP, the groundswell that Novacub have been building, especially in indie and Britrock scenes, has been rather considerable. A good part of that definitely feels tied to their already sizable pedigree, featuring respective Bloc Party guitarist and drummer Russell Lissack and Louise Bartle among their ranks as well as support slots with 2000s indie stalwarts like the Kaiser Chiefs and The Futureheads, but even at this early stage, they’ve proven they know their way around a potent indie-pop hook with a series of singles that have managed to push all the right buttons for success within their field. It might be premature to call Novacub ‘the next big thing’ or anything like that (this is only their debut release, after all), but considering they’ve managed to hit the right marks in almost every aspect so far, the potential for this to really click if they can keep up that streak really does speak for itself.
And for the most part, they really can keep it up, as Future Echoes is the sort of no-nonsense EP that sees a band making every endeavour to put their best foot forward in a way that connects remarkably well. At the same time though, it’s not the sort of thing to set the world alight just yet, but Novacub are consolidating their melodic chops and knack for clean, precise hook-crafting in a way that doesn’t totally rule that out yet. It’s simple but incredibly effectively, and that’s where Novacub’s strongest assets clearly lie.
Because of that, there isn’t a great deal of analysis to be done here, beyond just how good Novacub are when they refine their most anthemic, upbeat instincts into a track like the riotous Strike, with its rolling percussion and bass topped off with gleaming keys to synthesise the sort of tropical tick that bands like Fickle Friends have really thrived at capturing. Here it’s done with just as much vigour and sparkle, but the slight raggedness in the buzzing around the edges brings a less calculated edge to it all, and while Bartle is far less poised as a vocalist, there’s a rambunctiousness to her energy that feels so gaudy and lively that it’s hard to ignore. Really, it makes a track like We Don’t Care as good as it is, matching the bounding guitars beat for beat in a brand of alt-pop that pleasantly plays away from the rigidity that rarely ever works, yet is more often than not defaulted to. On the whole, it feels like a better take on what Yonaka tried earlier this year on their debut, having the clearer, more polished production but never sacrificing what feels like a rock ethic that’s always at least bubbling under the surface, and when Novacub properly embrace that, they can strike some real indie-pop gold.
That’s not to say that when they do slow things down and opt for a more measured execution that it’s bad, but the moments where that’s most prevalent on Future Echoes aren’t able to ride nearly as far on their own momentum, and they do feel like dips in the tracklist as a result. The glittery synths running through End Of The World sound pretty as a mark to its credit, but there’s something about Wait Up that doesn’t quite hold up as the arena anthem it’s positioned as, whether that’s how it’s never quite able to stretch to the level of bombast it wants to, or how the cascading synths feel like a substitute for real strings and don’t have the same lushness to them. It’s definitely easy to see why Novacub would want to embrace this direction further, especially with songwriting that’s not exactly detailed but works perfectly well at capturing big, sweeping emotions, but here, the difference in overall refinement is explicit, and it can be slightly too uneven to overlook.
That’s not even a major flaw though, more a shortcoming that’ll undoubtedly get ironed out over time as Novacub evolve into the great indie-pop band that this EP shows far more than passing glimpses of. They’ve already got a lot right, and sorting out the kinks that are here will be the most natural thing in the world for a band with this level of collective experience. There’s already a lot to like anyway with how strong the composition and vision is, and while the tightness of this package is undoubtedly a boon for that sort of thing, Novacub have a brightness to them that should make the transition to a full album all too easy. Going into 2020, this is a band to keep an eye on; odds are the name will be popping up in more than a few places going forwards.
For fans of: Fickle Friends, Yonaka, Bloc Party
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Future Echoes’ by Novacub is out now on LAB Records.