[sic] Magazine

LoneLady – Nerve Up

The world is awash with female artistes. Be them folkish, poppish or just plain quirky we’re up to our eyeballs in ‘em. So, how does Julie Campbell , stage name LoneLady , stand out from the crowd? Well, wisely, she’s cottoned on to today’s less-is-more aesthetic and combined it with a penchant for post-punk.

Nerve Up comes courtesy of Warp , so it’s no surprise to meet a few beats along the way. Driven by echoing drum machine patterns and minimal high-tempo throbs, “If Not Know” later concedes to jerky post-punk guitar. The title track and “Intuition” reek of Gang of Four bred on ESG , whereas elsewhere Wire hang in the shadows. These things said, Nerve Up has a pop heart and sounds best loud.

Post-punk tension frequently gives way to frenetic pop tempos that clap and compete for the attention. Really, all that’s missing is a knockout punch, and one can’t help but feel that inevitable remixes will provide one. “Marble” however comes close. Mired in mid-tempos and less eager to please, it loops and shudders with guitars echoing suspension-like in the mix. Campbell’s reverbed vocal combines with chattering guitar angles and organ to round out the track more than competently.

Some latter tracks lack the impact of the earlier ones but are far from poor. For example, “Have No Past” lessens both the beats and post-punk and flirts a little too strongly with Alisha’s Attic as a result, but it is happily the exception rather than the rule.

Sufficiently jittery to dance to, sufficiently dark to brood to, most of Nerve Up is fresh yet well-established. With little instrumental backing, Campbell has achieved a fullness of sound away from over-polished pop, but one that is nevertheless rife with the stuff. Rarely does she fall foul of anaemic facsimile ( Florence ), neither of wilfully quirky pop ( Marina ). Perhaps it’s the Manchester is her, but Nerve Up is a serious record by a serious artiste, and it deserves to be taken seriously too.

Nerve Up is out now on Warp.