tue 18/06/2024

Album: Nia Archives - Sunrise Bang ur Head Against the Wall | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Nia Archives - Sunrise Bang ur Head Against the Wall

Album: Nia Archives - Sunrise Bang ur Head Against the Wall

The jungle-pop star shows precisely what she's made of in this condensed statement

Getting away with it: Nia Archives makes intense pop music from jungle / drum'n'bass rhythms

We are way, way past the point where it makes any sense to talk of jungle or drum’n’bass “revivals”. Thirty years from the emergence of jungle from the rave scene, its tempo and tropes have remained a staple sound for generation upon generation of clubbers, boy racers and festival goers. It is woven into the fabric of global, and particularly British, culture just as integrally as, say, indie rock guitars are.

That said, it has lately had an upsurge in popularity, but it makes more sense to think of what’s happened in the Twenties as a consolidation. What we’ve seen is a young generation of artists and DJs who go right back to the early days for inspiration, but are recontextualising for the modern age.

It’s striking that one of the most important DJs playing at 160bpm and up in clubland now is Sherelle: a young, queer, Black woman who can go toe to toe with the big boys of the scene when it comes to both musical knowledge and tearing up raves. And at the daytime radio end of things, the likes of Pink Pantheress and Piri & Tommy are balancing the traditional machismo of the music with a delicate, sometimes arch, pop sensibility.

And Yorkshire- and Manchester-raised Nia Archives does it all. She’s already had a big hit doing vocals for some of the veterans of the scene – the collective Watch The Ride who include first generation DJ/producers Randall and DJ Die – and her own bedroom-produced tracks have led to MOBO and NME Awards and a Brit nomination before the age of 24.

All this with only a few singles, too – but it’s all well-earned, and this six-track EP demonstrates exactly why. It starts with the anthemic chants and rollercoaster-ride beats of “Baianá” – but then tips into introspective territory. There’s bossa-nova lilt (“That’s the Way Life Goes”), a tender-hearted soul duet (“No Need to B Sorry, Call Me?” with Irish Londoner Maverick Sabre), and indie-pop guitars (“So Tell Me…”). But they’re all held together first by Archives’s plaintive yet confident voice, which blends her Jamaican and Yorkshire roots with a little Amy Winehouse, and second by perfect merging with those rolling jungle rhythms.

It all comes together at the end, first with the plaintive “Conveniency”, then finally the title track, where the eerie pianos and sense of dislocation after being up all night switch in and out of absolutely tearing drum breaks. It’s remarkable that something so intense can be considered pop music, but it’s a mark of how much jungle / drum’n’bass rhythms are in the bloodstream of this country that Archives not only gets away with it but makes it sound 100% natural. This may be under 20 minutes long, but it’s a huge statement of intent for a rising star, but also a glowing beacon for the British ability to fuse pop and underground.


Below: watch the video for "Conveniency" by Nia Archives


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