ARTISAN GUNS: Hearts EP
By Kara Segedin
Right from the lively cover art created by the band’s bassist Reuben Stephens, you know this is going to be an enjoyable EP. ‘Hearts’ is the second release from Auckland quartet Artisan Guns and with backing from EMI NZ the six tracks here are slick and professional. Whether moving along at a playful pop pace or thrashing out gritty rock, Artisan Guns slide effortlessly between styles. Vocalist Matthew Hope is particularly versatile, always captivating whether he’s singing with melodic calm or in full rock’n’roll howl. North opens the EP on a bright and gradually stomping note then mixes the whole thing up with changes of tempo and rhythm throughout. The pace builds to a rocking finish, and all the while the vocals perfectly fit the changes. Without You follows the same technique starting mellow and folky before exploding into a fun and danceable track. The band shakes things up with the stirring The End making good use of vocal distortion and synth. Recorded in under a week at Dave Dobbyn’s studio, produced by the band and Dave Parker, ‘Hearts’ is an exceptional piece of original Kiwi pop.