New Zealand duo ARLS have just released their debut single, LUCKY, a trip hop ballad that is bringing back the much-loved genre – with their own spin.
ARLS is made up of musician and producer Bravo Bonez and singer/songwriter Alba Rose. Currently working on their four-track EP MELD, due for release in the first half of 2020. LUCKY is the initial taste of what’s to come.
On their debut track, LUCKY, New Zealand duo ARLS give us an expert blend of trip hop and electro-pop, equal parts beautiful and addictive.
Recalling the production of Portishead and Massive Attack, there’s a cool minimalism about the track. Beginning with only guitar and vocals, soon a half-time trip hop beat enters the mix and the track gradually gains more elements: bass, violin, and arpeggiating synth lines.
However, the instrumentation never goes over the top. It would be easy to throw layers upon layers into a track like this, where everything works together so well, but the key here is maintaining the perfect balance between a few key elements: LUCKY is beautiful in its understated confidence.
The duo compartmentalise the writing process, with Bonez on production duties and Rose on vocals – although they both collaborate on melody writing. The melodies are certainly a strong point of the track, with each vocal part effortlessly building to the next.
The vocal production is crisp, and there’s a rawness and vulnerability of Rose’s voice reminiscent of Lana Del Rey, but also a soulfulness about the delivery that recalls that of Zero 7 vocalists, Sophie Barker and Sia.
Lyrically, there’s a strong narrative running through the song: it’s a letter to a past lover, reflecting on the strength of the narrator outside of the relationship, and ultimately how much better she is for being beyond it.
Just before the halfway mark, the beat drops out giving way to a pair of soaring violins. A gliding synth part urges the beat back in, and when it returns, the song evolves into a dreamy breakdown. Against a backdrop of intersecting violin hooks and synth runs, filtered vocals are overlaid with luscious adlibs.
This is the hero moment of the song and it truly soars. It gives you just enough, but stops before too long, leaving you wanting more.
The track ends the way it starts, with stripped back vocals and guitar, and Rose delicately singing the lyrics, “You’re lucky that I’m not a girl who falls dependent on your love.”
LUCKY is the confident and stunning first offering from an accomplished duo who have a knack for creating their own alluring brand of trip hop and electro-pop. There is undeniable talent here and we will be keeping our eyes peeled for any and all future advances from ARLS.
Listen to LUCKY below.