Stubborn Heart's eponymous debut album seems to have won me over with little effort on my part. Lucca Santucci and Ben Fitzgerald are a British duo whose brand of humane electronica deserves to make a significant dent in the fabric of the listening world if it is not allowed to disappear under the far horizon. (You may also wish to hear their earlier EP 'Need Someone' while you're about it). It gets under your skin and won't let go!. Not since Kendal boys Wild Beasts' 2011 release 'Smother' have I been so impressed by a creative capacity to integrate mysteriously soulful melody with machines. This has much to do with Mr Santucci's haunting voice; a terrific instrument blessed with a deliciously warm tone and fluid falsetto. At times his upper register reminds me of both Maxwell and David McAlmont (the latter a sadly under-recorded artist of whose dulcet tones I would love to have heard more). This is music with a huge heart.
The sinuous tunes and deft sense of rhythmic invention fill these ten songs with an ambience of melancholy mixed with tense expectation. If you like Hamburg's wonderful band Lali Puna you may well find much to love here too. Sure there's more going on but the alternation of near-stasis ('Blow' and 'Head On') with more energetic bursts of dance-friendly activity ('Starting Block' - a lovely bouncing quasi-Latin confection - and jittery final track 'Need Someone') keeps us both guessing and enthralled. The delicately minimal but nonetheless strangely affecting 'To Catch A Spark' deserves an especial mention of its own. Stripped down to the bare bones but worth its weight in gold.
A commendable first showing from a hugely promising ensemble.