LA/Belfast based trio, Unloved (vocalist and songwriter Jade Vincent, her partner, producer/composer Keefus Ciancia, and DJ, producer and composer David Holmes) return with Heartbreak, the follow-up to their 2016 debut, Guilty of Love. Heartbreak is not just another studio release for Unloved; it is also the soundtrack to the acclaimed ‘Killing Eve’ TV series, based on British author Luke Jennings Codename Villanelle novella series. Unloved are not new to making music for soundtracks, for example, “Cry Baby Cry” from their debut LP featured in “Baby Driver”. With the trio possessing so much music producing and composing experience (David Holmes has over forty credits as a composer alone); a plethora of different sounds and emotions is expected across Heartbreak. An exploration as to how Unloved intend to awaken listeners is essential.
Heartbreak kick-starts with a track sharing the same name, a soulful McAlmont & Butler 1960’s song with jolly handclaps, but with a slightly mellower gist, yet not too mellow and chilled for dancing not to be permitted. The lyrics about experiencing heartbreak don’t synchronise with the chilled vibe of the music, nonetheless, this doesn’t matter. “Remember” follows with its hip-hop style intro which unexpectedly blossoms into sixties psychedelia with Burt Bacharach strings alongside almost tribal chanting. This melting pot of geographically and culturally displaced cacophonies genuinely produces an elating bohemia.
“(SIGH)” is a song of great interest and one of constant, sudden drastic, dramatic change. The beat unexpectedly grinds to almost a halt with a haunting slowness with sounds and influences which combine Lana Del Ray, Portishead and Hillary Woods. The active drums and beats, reminiscent of Here Lies Man and Jefferson Airplane which introduced “(SIGH)” return. The interchange between these two opposed sounds occurs several times, yet somehow each time they are a welcome surprise.
There are many unusual elements across each of the songs. “Lee”, the most haunting track and only song to feature the echoing of a choir in an old cathedral with natural (although not heavenly) acoustics with dark strings, signifies tragedy, like a Grimm’s Fairy Tale. “Danger” is quirky with the 1980’s pop drum beat backing to household novice keyboards back in the day amidst racing string and brass sections produce the most unlikely combination and something one would not immediately associate with danger, yet the connection is visible.
Across many of the tracks, Jade Vincent’s vocal style is similar to that of Lana Del Ray’s. “Devil’s Angels”, “Lee”, “Danger” and “If” are all examples of this. Vincent also tries out other vocal styles. Her style on “Bill” is more melancholy and softer. “Fail We May, Sail We Must” offers a sound similar to Christine and the Queens. On “Crash Boom Bang”, “and the worlds come” is the most distinct lyric across this LP, which is repeated like a sophisticated and soothing hypnopaedia technique. “Crash Boom Bang” is also musically one of the least classic sounding tracks.
The theme of love is self-evident throughout Heartbreak. The distortion of Jade Vincent’s vocals both helps and hinders since it is not always possible to distinctly decipher all the lyrics. However, the motley crew of sounds compensates for this which often expresses feelings and emotions lyrics and poetry cannot always do alone. The listener cannot help but get drawn into a plethora of emotions and experiences throughout this LP. Some of these emotions will be disturbing and disrupting. Whilst it is hard to find a purpose for creating these emotional turns, other than to help tell the story of “Killing Eve”, nonetheless, if one is seeking a continuous altered state of mind without warning; Heartbreak is something to explore.