Dead Oceans – 30th June

Two Hearts and No Brain could just as easily imply a romantic record as it could something different entirely. After all, two hearts might not be as much of a blessing as they may at first seem. Surely it depends on what type of hearts they are – warm or cold, big or small? And in the case of Kane Strang, two hearts seem necessary to handle all of the heartbreak, loneliness and despair that fill his second, breakthrough full-length effort.

In fairness, that probably makes it sound far too depressing. Though Two Hearts and No Brain sees the New Zealander tackle those (perhaps a little too) well-worn topics and emotions in abundance, it’s done in such a way that a light manages to continuously flicker through the relative darkness. With his often deadpan delivery, and always sharp lyrics – driven on by hook-laden guitar riffs and fuzzy, warming synths – Strang captivates and charms with less than cheery subject matter.

Lead single ‘Oh So You’re Off I See’ exemplifies this perfectly. “I’ve got no dreams, no guts, just enemies,” deadpans Strang, sounding rather accepting of a sorry situation, before the borderline passive-aggressive repeating of the title. Somewhat sad it may be, but it’s a certifiable earworm whose sadness and tenderness it’s ultimately a pleasure to indulge in. And that’s pretty much the case for the whole of ‘Two Hearts and No Brain’, from ‘My Smile Is Extinct’ and its rejection-confronting chorus beginning of “Kill me now, I want to die” – delivered in an almost inappropriately carefree tone – to the largely more subdued title track, and everything else besides. By the end of it all, Kane Strang has well and truly made his mark – and he makes it all seem so easy. There’s plenty more where this came from.

Buy: Kane Strang – Two Hearts and No Brain