Duo ARLS, comprising Alba Rose and Bravo Bonez, are spearheading the revival in 90s trip-hop and 80’s synth atmospherics, working with legendary producer, Greg Haver (Manic Street Preachers; Super Furry Animals; The Chills) and Simon Gooding to produce their debut single. Add to that a mix by one of New Zealand’s celebrated artists and producers, Eddie Johnston (Lontalius/Race Banyon), who has been hailed by fans, Lorde and Ryan Hemsworth. LUCKY looks to already be figuring amongst the year’s best new tracks.
Front and centre of ARLS is Alba Rose, a vocalist whose gift for melody and imbuing a track with emotion belies the fact that she is still studying at university. Dynamic, cool and with a wicked glint in her eye, she’s a genuine powerhouse of ideas and talent. Bravo Bonez travels the Earth constantly and is the enigma of the band. As composer and arranger, he hides a wealth of musical experience behind his shades, bringing the darker elements of the 90s trip-hop scene along with the ethereal splendour of Cocteau Twins at their peak.
The perhaps unlikely union of perpetual planet-traveller Bravo Bonez and New Zealand-based Alba Rose is entirely in keeping with the bizarre genesis of LUCKY. A throwaway hummed vocal sent as a voice memo by Alba to Bravo became an earworm neither of them could shake – the line ‘lucky’ and the partially constructed melody kept returning to them again and again. Bravo explains its unorthodox birth:
“Alba came to this with her voice memo – I interpreted, and largely what you hear today is what I envisioned, but there was a real tension between me and co-producer Greg Haver over the direction of the track. And we were kind of both right. But we almost came to blows – it got subterranean nasty, we were really pissed off at each other. Both he and Alba simultaneously came up with the idea of the acoustic guitar, and Alba for the vocal and guitar fadeout. Greg added a lot to the atmosphere of the track. I was pissed off because I felt I had lost control of the track, but in reality, I listen now, it’s beautiful”
LUCKY’s lyrics tell of wrenching yourself from an unfulfilling relationship, reminding yourself you’re strong enough to emerge from the pain whilst delivering a sideswipe at the person they’re leaving, that they were lucky to have what they’ve lost. ARLS is more than a sound – it’s the feeling of your blood on fire.