With the release of “I Am In” and “AAA” off their critically applauded debut album Young, the Vienna, Austria-based quartet Hearts Hearts, comprised of David Österle, Daniel Hämmerle, Johannes Mandorfer, and Peter Paul Aufreitet, initially developed a reputation for crafting brooding, slow-burning and elegiac electro pop that drew comparisons Sigur Ros, Flying Lotus, The Darcys and Radiohead. Thematically, Young focused on tension and release — in the sense of someone desperately attempting to break through and out of the familiar and debilitating patterns of their own life.
As the story goes, after the release of Young, the band’s Peter Paul Aufreiter and Johannes Mandorfer sent two radically different sound snippets to their bandmate David Österle — an aggressive and jazzy piano loop titled “Phantom” and an electronic drum take recorded overseas titled “Island,” which interestingly enough is the German word for the country of Iceland. Upon receiving those two sound snippets from his bandmates, Österle frantically began attempting to put these disparate pieces together; to synchronise what was never meant to be unified, and start singing over the results. Goods/Gods, the Austrian act’s genre-defying sophomore album reportedly draws from the work of Bon Iver, Jamie XX and Son Lux while taking its thematic cues from the in between spaces and undefined borderlines in meaning, symbolized by the slash in every title on the album. And as a result, the material finds the band exploring emotional and moral ambiguities, and the ineffectiveness and confusions that the dichotomies and borderlines that define modern society. As the band’s Hämmerle says, the band prefers to think “think in options,” seeing the slash as representing an openness and flexibility in meaning; in similarities as much as in difference.
Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the trippy album single “Phantom/Island,” a genre-mashing and genre-defying track that possessed elements of jazz, electronica, indie rock and experimental pop in a way that brings to mind Kid A and Amnesiac-era Radiohead Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington — but while conjuring a mix of anguish and ecstasy, yearning and desire within a turn of a musical phrase. “Sugar/Money,” the soon-to-be released album’s latest single is a bit more straightforward as the song finds the band drawing from early 80s New Wave, ambient electronica and indie rock in a way that feels dimly familiar but not quite, while focusing on an accessible and infectious hook.