Nieve Ella’s songs are subtly powerful because she adopts the roles of both hero and villain. Emotionally, her second EP ‘Lifetime Of Wanting’ carries the dark, foggy tint of a pair of tired eyes: she sings of seeing her self-esteem warped by a protracted breakup before moving on to the conflicting feelings that accompany a game of cat and mouse with a new flame. “Fuck it / I touched someone that wasn’t you,” begins ‘His Sofa’, a crunching and pristine indie-rock track that recalls Soccer Mommy at her gnarliest. “You asked if I’d stay here / And I choked on my lies,” Ella sings as the chorus hits its peak.
The 20-year-old is becoming a master of this type of self-conscious melodrama. Following January’s debut EP ‘Young & Naive’, Ella has quietly become a British indie success story; across support slots for Dylan and Inhaler, and high-profile appearances at Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds, the West Midlands musician has cultivated a fanbase that feels feverish beyond her current stature. At her shows, fans share handmade friendship bracelets – inspired by a current trend at Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras’ tour – and see Ella’s music as a way to understand their common identities. In an era where casual streaming numbers make it more difficult to picture an emerging artist’s fanbase, this level of dedication is noteworthy.
‘Lifetime Of Wanting’, then, is hungry, and lightly brazen in its quest to push Ella from an ‘if you know, you know’ level of fame into the mainstream. Much like her obvious influences Boygenius and Gracie Abrams, Ella’s incisive singalongs are universal enough to appeal to everybody while feeling like she’s talking specifically to the listener.
She melds a combination of vagueness and ultra-specificity in her songwriting: ‘Your Room’ references an ex’s new partner and their infatuation with Phoebe Bridgers, while also avoiding telling us what went wrong in the first place. ‘Big House’, a reflection on the fallout of complex relationships, maintains a hazy mood despite its sad and very human subject matter.
If there is anything missing from ‘Lifetime Of Wanting’, it’s a sense of intensity and surprise – the majority of the songs glide along around the same mid-tempo. But the EP largely feels like a young, intelligent songwriter beginning to spread her wings. The downward spiral of guitars and swirling, echoey atmospherics of shoegaze on the closing title track are particularly gorgeous: “You’re everything I wanted,” Ella repeats, sounding more euphoric than ever.
- Release date: September 1
- Record label: AWAL