New band of the day – No 1,315: Stubborn Heart

This post-dubstep duo mix sensitive vocals and synth noise. Think Hurts meets Skrillex

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Hometown: London.

The lineup: Luca Santucci and Ben Fitzgerald.

The background: Stubborn Heart are a new duo offering a blend of pop and dubstep. And by blend we mean balance. And by balance we might mean compromise. The music they make has been termed "post-dubstep" but the "post" in that equation doesn't just stand for "comes after". It should also contain a sense that the music is, as well as incorporating elements of what went before, being taken in a whole new direction. They don't really do that. What Junior Boys did on their bolt-from-the-blue 2004 album Last Exit was post-R&B or post-UKG. They got there ahead of James Blake, Jamie Woon, Mount Kimbie, everyone. What Stubborn Heart essay is, if we're being generous, a further (if not deeper) foray into the realms of sensitive vocals over jerking electronic rhythms. Sometimes the sub-bass and shrill synths do get super loud and distorted. If there's an innovation here, it's the marriage of lovelorn boys and the drilling scree of brostep: Hurts meets Skrillex.

We like the idea of Stubborn Heart living in their "London griefhole", as someone wrote of them, seeking solace in electro noise and moaning sadly as the killing sonics slowly engulf them. They actually claim to be part of a longer lineage than the garage-dubstep continuum, calling what they do "electronic soul from the heart" and citing influences from the 60s (Stubborn Heart is an old northern soul track) and 80s synth-pop as well as 90s techno, house and garage. The tracks on their new EP sort of bear this out. The singer – Santucci? Fitzgerald? – has a high-register voice that some have compared to Billy Mackenzie of Associates, to which we would simply say, listen to this, and stop being so silly. He is no Billy Mackenzie, he's far more earthbound and ordinary than that – think Thom Yorke, or (better) Andrew Chester from the wrongfully overlooked noughties Manchester duo My Computer. And whoever is handling the sounds – Fitzgerald? Santucci? – is no dexterous multi-instrumentalist/alchemist a la Alan Rankine. But there is a degree of affinity there with the synth-pop duos of that era.

Need Someone, the lead track on the EP, features house piano and a gradually shifting rhythm that covers a range of percussive styles as the vocalist finds numerous different ways to sing, "I need someone to love", from choirboy sob to ghostly wail. On Unearthly Powers the terms of reference are arcane ("My means of floatation are soon to be sunk"), the language strange ("Could you be transitory?"). On Penny Drops the promise of a dolorous brostep, with powerful clear and crisp production, over a full-length album, becomes quite compelling. There's another track by Stubborn Heart titled Knuckledown featuring pizzicato garage strings, and it sounds like Craig David in hell or MJ Cole if he was beautifying Throbbing Gristle. Make that really compelling.

The buzz: "Dark electronic soul music" –

The truth: It's a contradiction in terms, but it sort of works: fey brostep.

Most likely to: Sulk.

Least likely to: Become pandrogens.

What to buy: Their debut EP is released by Kaya Kaya through iTunes, and will be available on a limited run of 12in vinyl this summer. The album will follow in November.

File next to: My Computer, SBTRKT, Mount Kimbie, James Blake.


Wednesday's new band: Bastille.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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