Throughout the course of this site’s decade-plus history, I’ve spilled copious amounts of virtual ink covering JOVM mainstays HAERTS. Tracing their origins back to a budding high school romance in Munich, the acclaimed indie pop act have evolved as its founding (and core) duo — Nini Fabi (vocals) and Benny Gebert (keys, guitar) — have evolved: HAERTS was formed when the duo met their now-former bandmates while studying at Berklee College of Music. And upon graduation, the quintet relocated to Brooklyn, where they quickly built up a profile and released their major label, self-titled, Jean-Philip Grobler-produced. full-length debut.
After a series of lineup changes, the JOVM mainstays settled to its current lineup — its founding and core duo — and relocated to the Upstate New York woods, where they wrote and recorded their sophomore album, 2018’s New Compassion. Since the release of New Compassion, Fabi and Gebert have fully embraced their multi-national roots by splitting time between Berlin and New York. Around the same time, the duo have found themselves fueled by a renewed spirit of collaboration with artists and visual artists they’ve long admired, including Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste and Julian Klincewicz, who they worked with on POWER/LAND.
As you may recall, the duo’s third album Dream Nation is slated for a March 12, 2021 release, and reportedly the album’s material is marked by a sense of urgent intensity: Fabi and Gebert wrote the album over the course of about a month — and as soon as they finished, they recorded most of the album with their touring band during a week-long, live recording session in New York. Then they went to Los Angeles, where they put the finishing touches on the album and collaborated with Ed Droste on the album’s first single “For the Sky.”
Sonically, Dream Nation will continue to draw their long-held comparisons to Fleetwood Mac and First Aid Kit, but with subtle nods at Portishead and Lamb. “We went into the studio without setting limits or parameters other than that we wanted to make a record that moves you emotionally and physically,” Fabi and Gebert explain. “We wanted it to feel like an invitation into the strange and fantastical night time world, like the songs they play just before the lights come on, when the party is almost over, and the polish is gone.”
I’ve written about two of the album’s released singles:
- The aforementioned “For the Sky.” Prominently featuring Fabi’s gorgeous vocals, shimmering guitars, persistent drumming, a soaring hook and a guest spot from Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, “For the Sky” continues a run of carefully crafted pop centered around lived-in lyricism.
- “It’s Too Late” is a glistening, hook-driven pop confection that sonically — to my ears, at least — is a slick synthesis of Fleetwood Mac, Shuggie Otis, Avalon-era Roxy Music.
“Shivering,” Dream Nation’s latest single is centered around an arpeggiated organ groove, stuttering four-on-the-floor, a shimmering guitar solo, jazz funk and disco vibes and Fabi’s gorgeous and plaintive vocals. But just under the sinuous, dance floor friendly surface, there’s something much darker — with the song subtly evoking the desperate attempt to get one’s quickly racing mind in check.
“The song came from this organ groove Benny came up with and the onomatopoeic quality of the word ‘Shivering’ itself,” HAERTS’ Fabi explains in press notes. “It’s about the obsession and attraction of the things which give us anxiety and disturb us. In a way it’s our soundtrack to a panic attack.”