Amidst widespread hype within the UK rock scene, London duo Nova Twins have released their second album 'Supernova'. The Mic's Features Editor Roxann Yus gives her thoughts.
I’ve been counting down the days for Supernova since I saw Nova Twins support Bring Me The Horizon, on the 24th of September 2021 in Sheffield. They debuted Antagonist that night, and from then on I was hooked.
Anyone who knows me knows that it doesn’t take much to get me hooked on Nova Twins. I am pretty obsessed with everything they do. But this track marked the beginning of something different: as Amy and Georgia said in a recent interview with Consequence, their new album needed to sound “Nova”. The authentic sound of “Nova” remains and intensifies on Supernova – honestly, nobody sounds like them; their sound is even recognisable for fans unfamiliar with the duo. Georgia mentioned that this definition sounds like a cliche, but I couldn’t disagree more. When a band has a sound so fresh, new, authentic, recognisable, and ridiculously “Nova” as Nova Twins, then to me, they own 100% of that word.
So how “Nova” is the album in full? Well, Nova Twins released a healthy five songs from Supernova before the album release on the 17th of June. Antagonist was followed by K.M.B which showed us another nuanced meaning of “Nova”: one that experimented with sounds of reality, as well as the iconic bass-heavy noise full of distortion and fuzz that we associate with the duo. Next came Cleopatra: again completely different, but still unapologetically “Nova”. This is the first time I’ve identified a Nova Twins track with a storyline; it's one informed by modern and ancient history. There are some beautiful lyrics: “bones made out of treasure”, “our ancestors were sailors / Crossed over the equator”, just to mention a few. But of course, this delicate description of Amy and Georgia’s ancestry, as well as their attitudes towards the BLM movement, leads up to a chorus motivated by self empowerment, badass bitchery, and confidence that grants a large part of what “Nova” is.
As expected, the next singles released showed us another side of Nova Twins – almost as consent to pick their brains and begin to understand their personal experiences as black women in music, the rock industry in particular, as well as society. Puzzles came as a fun surprise for many fans because of their lyrics. They are more than sex-positive: the voice is in charge of their own sexuality, eliminating a taboo surrounding female pleasure and sexual expression. I believe this is the first time I’ve heard such a topic in a rock song: as a genre dominated by cis-het white men, a hierarchical tradition seems to linger in what such songs can discuss. But Nova Twins write what they called a “sexy rock song” with no boundaries of what can be said, and finally reveal the POV of women.
The next song to be released was Choose Your Fighter, which I must admit might be my favourite of the whole album. Again, the layers of natural, artificial and instrumental sounds remain unmatched, and all manifest into a danceability that you probably wouldn’t associate with a song about fighting. But on reflection, Nova Twins encourage dance, movement and energy in their songs, and not in the mere rock/metal expression of moshing. It's no surprise that I’ve come across pole dance groups who dance to Nova Twins: a self-empowering art-form demands music that accounts for danceability, and of course, bad bitch lyrics are a great bonus.
Obviously, we Nova Twins fans were quite spoilt prior to release, so I’ve described nearly half of the songs already. But bringing you all up to speed with Nova Twins’ variation is necessary for you to understand the brilliance of this album. The girls released songs that demonstrated their multi-angular response to music, and honestly their musical superpowers. Listening to this album in full, from front to back, is when you can truly appreciate not only the diversity of their music but also the careful selection of tracks. Despite waiting in anticipation since September, and even being teased by Jason Aalon from Fever 333 about how incredible this album will be, this album and these women deserved our patience.
"Nova Twins play with duality: ‘dark place’ and ‘somewhere beautiful’ to show two POVs, one focused on emotion and the other on aesthetics and location."
So, Supernova from back to front: what makes this entire project so special? My first thought after listening to it for the first time (which although was only at 00:00 today, was probably about 40 album listens ago) was that, despite the odds, more surprises were in store. The introductory song Power (Intro) set the futuristic, galactic tone for the whole album with a robotic effect on Amy’s voice, and frequent changes in pace igniting our desire and creating mystery from then on. Possibly one of the heaviest instrumentals from Nova Twins, this track showcases rock excellence, and intrigues those unfamiliar with the duo to find out what the future of rock music is, and how unimportant genres are when music is so “Nova”.
From then we greet with open arms Antagonist, Cleopatra, and K.M.B, with which we are already familiar. But long-awaited, the album moves onto Fire & Ice which begins with a fiery bass-heavy instrumental, as well as some more sex-positivity. This track explores duality and its desirability in a relationship, perfectly opening the doors for track 6, Puzzles, which focuses on what a woman desires, rather than what they can be and provide.
Track 7, A Dark Place For Somewhere Beautiful, changes the mood of the album. Its choral-rock pre chorus precedes a heavy chorus, both instrumentally and emotionally, which again invites us to understand the layers of both Amy and Georgia. Many of us associate only self-empowerment and confidence with their lyrics, but this track provides us with the foundation of their attitudes towards life. The main-character energy infused into their songs, and especially into tracks 1-6, prepare us with the attitudes to deal with problems. Again, Nova Twins play with duality: ‘dark place’ and ‘somewhere beautiful’ to show two POVs, one focused on emotion and the other on aesthetics and location.
"Their musical superpowers are unlimited."
And then, proclaimed as the ‘dark horse’ of the album, Toolbox has a R&B vibe from the get-go. Unlike many of their songs that seem so otherworldly, distanced from influence altogether to create something completely new, this track demonstrates Amy and Georgia’s wide knowledge of and respect for music, especially such that played a large part in their upbringing. But of course, it wouldn’t be “Nova” without twists and turns, such as genre bends leading up to the chorus, both vocally and instrumentally. Just as it’s named, there are discrete mechanical sounds, as well as a mechanisation of Amy’s vocals during the pre-chorus. These effects are so carefully selected, and at such high quality to be as implicit as they are, seen in track 10, Enemy, which begins as what would make the perfect James Bond track. The grandeur, and mimicry of spy shows sets the tone of the track, as well as the duo’s POV, without even needing to lyrically. As always, we are spoilt by heavy and in-charge bass riffs from Georgia who magically aids the transformation of a simple concept into the essence of “Nova”.
But I think the most conceptual track of all may be the final track, Sleep Paralysis, which invites us to embark upon a journey of mystery, dreams, and nightmares. Reminiscent of Primadonna by MARINA, Amy toys with a whispery range to add to the illusion that these women create in their music: one that transports us into another world, maybe a “Nova” world, whereby we become the main characters of a futuristic sci-fi novella, yet at the same time part of an unapologetic, and at times painful, reality. There is no illusion regarding their POV in life, which ultimately guides the creative course of this album. No illusion lies in their talent and passion for music, and how they can fully fledge a concept into a 30-minute masterpiece.
I am so unbelievably proud and impressed with the growth and innovation of Nova Twins with this second album. Their musical superpowers are unlimited. If you would like to take part in the Supernova experience soon, Nova Twins are doing a bunch of stripped-back sets of the new album across the UK, including Nottingham on the 21st of June. This might be one of the last times to catch the duo at an intimate venue since they are presently taking the world by storm. If you don’t believe me, then trust their 5-star reviews from the likes of NME, The Telegraph, DIY, DORK, Upset, as well as outstanding reviews from many other publications.
Edited by: Caradoc Gayer
In article and cover images courtesy of Nova Twins via Facebook. In article video courtesy of Nova Twins via Youtube.