The Heart and All Its Sin proves a glittering return for Hannah Lou Clark

The Heart and All Its SinA welcome distraction, Hannah Lou Clark’s latest EP offering The Heart and All Its Sin presents the singer-songwriter at her grunge-poppy best. Since her previous release (2016’s It’s Your Love), Clark’s sound has twisted and turned into its present form, and her blend of riff-heavy alternative and melodic indie-slash-dream pop is remarkably fresh.

Opening track "Matilda" offers a melting pot of distorted guitars and battling lines, decorated by strong vocals with dissonant harmonies. It’s busy without being overbearing, and the instruments are allowed to breathe while Clark teases us with playful melodies. In contrast, "Don’t Sweat It" marks a return to her roots, with her signature blend of electro-pop influences and clever phrasing galore. It’s a little lighter than some of her other works while preserving a rougher edge.

The soft layered vocals of the surprising "We’re Rich", combined with unexpected melodies, crafty harmonies, and tentative layering, make this a track of particular substance. It’s an old fashioned love song: delicate, self-deprecating and gentle. The honesty with which Clark professes her adoration is stirring while avoiding the all too familiar trap of dramatics. Lying in stark contrast with its predecessor, "Grief Underneath" is dominated by heavily reverbed vocals and an overall grittier mood. Clark’s vocals on this track are quite remarkable – the cracks in the lower end of her range are beautifully contrasted with the fragility of the breathy higher notes. Closing song "Torment Love" is, in parts, notably poppier than other tracks on this record. Despite this, the experimental percussion fused with the fragility of the vocal line is undeniably refreshing.

The Heart and All Its Sin is something of a gem. It manages to be sweet without being saccharine; experimental without being too wide a departure from Clark’s origins. It’s untheatrical and unassuming, yet manages to linger.

Release: 24th March 2017, Quatre Femmes Records / PIAS

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