Demonic and dangerous, sorrowful and tormented; such are said to be the properties of the Japanese mask after which Hanya name themselves. It too, makes a pretty good description of this first EP from the Brighton two-piece.
The mix of sounds created by the pair – originally the solo project of Heather Sheret before being joined by drummer Jack Watkins – has grown over time and through the course of I Used To Love You, Now I Don’t mixes together a range of ‘90s influences from shoegaze to Britpop, while remaining fresh.
Opening with the simple, if awkward, strum and percussive shimmer of ‘Old/New’ over four minutes the track builds through layers of reverb-laden vocal, and guitar riffs that begin as Britpop chimes and twist into shoegaze distortion.
‘Radio’ is a glowing ember of a track, drifting upwards into the endless dark, turning slowly and filling you with ominous gloom. Sheret’s vocals are a honey laced with vinegar as the soft drawl becomes sharp yowl. Of the track Sheret has explained: “‘Radio’ was written at a time of big stomach churning foreboding for me. It reflects thinking that something external can help at a time like that, like moving somewhere new, meeting someone, stupid vices, anything that we reach out for to give us some feeling that shitty times can be fixed.”
In this track are the real echoes of shoegaze as spiralling riffs conjure forth Mazzy Star and Slowdive. You spiral with it, sinking into its depths, but it lacks the awe of those influences – something made up for on ‘Honey’.
This starts off the same way, the gloop and gloom pulls you in but rather than cycling this way throughout, Watkins drumming picks up part way through; a percussive foil for that soft-echoing vocal, pinning down the bolshier guitar.
Closer ‘Trust Fund Baby’ steps away in tone being a far more upbeat number, closer to Salad and Sounds From The City era PJ Harvey. It rattles along with more jangle than distortion, with a bite in the lyric as much as a shimmer to the percussion.
Hanya build a sound which belies their two-piece set up and as a debut I Used To Love You, Now I Don’t is full of promise; an understated addition to established genres.
I Used To Love You, Now I Don’t is out now via Leisure Records. Listen here. And make sure you catch Hanya live for us at The Finsbury on 14th December, along with Fightmilk, Handsome Eric and Candy Cane!