March 8, 2024

Considering that the original line up is once more back in place, New Year’s Day could have made a statement of self-titling their fifth album  Instead, the Californians have decided to let the music do all of the talking and rather than a full on re-birth, Half Back Heart is more of a case of a re-set which stares right at the bright eyes of their future.

In real terms, Half Black Heart is a signal of New Year’s Day’s artistic evolution and one where previous album 2019’s Unbreakable had already set the scene with the band leaving behind a former musical life. Building on the tone of its predecessor, Half Black Heart has sharper teeth, a tighter sonic grip and its sights set on a reach for greatness.

Speaking of sharper teeth, opener Vampyre delivers the puncture marks with a syncopated squall of guitar which creates quite the backdrop for the vocals of front woman Ash Costello that lyrically drives a stake through the heart of narcissism. The album pours on the singles; the title track is something of a beast that bleeds out catchiness while both Secrets and Hurts Like Hell both have the ability to deftly deliver the earworms that will reverberate all day.

When a band is still exploring, it does feel churlish to mention risk taking, after all, when thematically a record is examining the duality of human nature and there is emotional self-introspection it lays plenty on the line for its creators. Half Black Heart could hardly be considered a “safe” record but neither does it take any wild tangents. If anything, New Years Day is a band comfortable in its skin and its song writing is looking to fill arenas; stand out track Fearless is exactly the point, the emotive vocals on the verse soars to a huge chorus, the stabs of guitar are enormous and the whole song is what an anthem should be. Half Black Heart is  stuffed full of well crafted songs and the band exudes confidence with both song writing and their delivery but it does feel like it is missing the tiniest something to truly complete it

Half Black Heart both an excellent and bold record, one that will speak to New Year’s Day’s existing fans while reaching for that untapped audience. Sonically striking and with songs that do indeed get under the skin, it is neither short on aggression or elements of silky softness which holds a bewitching emotional power –  throw a caution-to-the-wind deviation or two and New Year’s Day could very well hold dynamite in its hands.