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Single Review: THE PHONCURVES 'Heartstrings'

The Phoncurves’ latest single ‘Heartstrings’ is aptly titled; it is a melodious, harmony-riddled, crooning country ballad that recalls the pull between the head and the heart in its wistful lyrics.

The Phoncurves consist of a female duo - Abbie Roberts and Naomi Burrell, both of whom play guitar and singing. This is the first single from the duo’s second EP and is a good indication of what to expect for the sophomore release, which is much of the same of what we have heard from them in the past, although Heartstrings feels deeper and more layered. I am one to cringe when I hear clichéd overly sentimental country tunes, but The Phoncurves are much better than that. With a soulful aesthetic that feels genuine, as well as the girls’ creativity with their harmonies and musical arrangement, The Phoncurves make country music that is much more than just a gimmick.

Heartstrings opens with drawn-out harmonies from the two girls that pull you deep into the emotional core of the song – without any of the lyrics even being sung. The lyrics are mostly to the point and clever without being overly sappy, which is a difficult balance to maintain with a song dealing with themes related to the heart. The repetition of the phrase ‘sometimes you just know’ is simple, but sounds poetic and meaningful when sung by the duo. Because The Phoncurves are making music in a genre that can easily be overly sentimental it is important they maintain this balance and always hold back just a little bit, as they have with ‘Heartstrings. But there are points in the song where I feel they needed to simplify the lyrics even more so or make them more vague to avoid feeling overly romantic. One such lyric was the final line of the song, ‘I know it when my heart sings’, which evokes images of Disney princesses frolicking in an idyllic garden and singing about their hearts desires - not exactly the kind of image you want to be conjuring as a mature artist.

Heartstrings yields most of its power when all instruments are paused and there is only the two girls’ melodious voices to be heard. The girls’ hypnotic chorus of ‘ahhh’ provides the backbone to the song as it is taken in many different places, varying between acapella moments and heavier instrumental emphasis. Heartstrings is a nice song, but I still feel like it needs an extra edge to elevate it something more dynamic. At points The Phoncurves get very close to this result, especially at moments where they surprise me by suddenly silencing all instruments or taking the song in a new direction, but it is not quite there yet.

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