EP REVIEW: NZCA LINES – Universal Heartbreak

4.5 rating
NZCA Lines

On September 22, multi-instrumentalist Michael Lovett, who works under the moniker NZCA Lines, drops his fourth musical outing with the EP Universal Heartbreak. It has been three years since the release of NZCA Line’s critically acclaimed Pure Luxury. It is an album that was best characterized as hyper-maximalist sonic goodness. This time around, Lovett goes minimalist with an alluring effect.

Universal Heartbreak originated as Lovett endured Covid, initially working with only a Wurlitzer electric organ and an 808 drum machine to create the short-form EP. The results are a recording that combined the plaintive feelings of the pandemic with Brooklyn hip-hop-inspired beats. Through the four tracks, Lovett expresses many emotions: frustration, anger, sadness and resolution. Lovett examines the darker moments in recent years and how they act as a catalyst to move forward. The introspective lyrics are a contrast to the dance-infused sonics.

Universal Heartbreak opens with the impressive “Push Reset”, combining strong vocals with seriously sophisticated synth pop melded to an addictive beat. Lovett recognizes the need for renewal in society and relationships in the lyrics. The track is a brilliant beginning to the release.

“Overloaded” is more stripped down compared to the opener. Here is a heartfelt examination of a relationship that is falling apart. Lovett questions how the relationship began and how it has run aground. This twists into a universal application to our ability to handle the world around us, “I’m feeling overloaded, I’m young and bored, depressed, but I can’t let it show.” The heartache is palpable as things spin out of control, playing out over a minimalist accompaniment.

The eponymous track, “Universal Heartbreak”, marries smooth synth-pop that NZCA Lines is known for to a great bass line. This winning track does what all four tracks on the release seek to accomplish: analyzing inner thoughts while encouraging the listener to move on from the trauma. On this track especially, but throughout the release, Lovett successfully walks a fine line between studio production excellence and sounding authentic.

The final track, “Everything Hurts in the End”, is a funky blend of a fuzzy guitar lick with 80’s synth stylings to display the dichotomies of the song. The theme is unrequited love. “Everything Hurts in the End” is a song for everyone whose love is not reciprocated as the relationship ends in the friend zone. The track is an inspired ending to an outstanding offering.

Universal Heartbreak is a welcomed return for NZCA Lines. The EP is concise and to the point, providing engaging sonics and thought-provoking lyrics. Lovett doesn’t hesitate to reveal his inner thoughts and feelings. If I have one grumble, I find myself wishing for a more extended playlist. Lovett has stated he hopes to release content more frequently in the EP format, so Universal Heartbreak is hopefully just the beginning of a series of releases. If the future EPs are as rewarding as this first one, listeners and fans are in for a treat.


Xsnoize Author
Lori Gava 340 Articles
Lori has been with XS Noize from the beginning and contributes album reviews regularly. Fav bands/artists: Radiohead, U2, The Cure, Arcade Fire, The Twilight Sad, Beck, Foals, Sufjan Stevens Fav Albums: In Rainbows, Achtung Baby, Disintegration, Funeral, Sea Change, Holy Fire, Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave.

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