Modern Love is a five-track EP that signifies Nina Nesbitt’s Swift-esque transition from her traditional acoustic-pop sound to pure pop. Her guitar and piano are replaced with electronic instruments and synthesised hooks, creating a sound very different to that of her first single, The Apple Tree.
Whilst I understand that it’s not uncommon practice for an EP, I found it pretty underwhelming that three of the five tracks were just different versions of the same song. I like to think that Nesbitt’s move into pop is one that has been made with artistic integrity, because it is where she wanted the direction of her music to go – not because her management have told her she needs to start pulling more sales. However, packaging together three of the same songs onto one EP – a move only seen before on one of her four previously released EP’s – makes me slightly sceptical.
Chewing Gum is the lead single and first track on the EP. It’s a catchy song, filled with electro-pop beats. Nesbitt retains the high quality of lyrics seen in her previous work, writing about what she describes as the “transient types of relationships people have when they’re trying to figure out what they want and they’re not ready to fully commit.” It will undoubtedly be excitedly received by her dedicated fanbase, and will perfectly slip into a Radio 1 playlist. However, whilst Nesbitt’s acoustic-pop was exceptionally good, placing her at the top of the genre, her pure pop is just above average. It isn’t particularly memorable, blending into all of the other pop songs on the radio right now. Track two, Take You To Heaven, is such a pop blend that my flatmate walked as I was listening to it and asked, “Why are you listening to a rip-off Taylor Swift?” I then sent it to my friend telling her how much it reminded me of Wildest Dreams… She agreed.
Even less memorable is the Leon Lour remix of Chewing Gum, the last track on the EP. I’m not the type of person who often listens to remixes, but I’m pretty sure anyone could tell you that this really is not the best. It’s an unnecessary addition which was probably added for the sole purpose of reinforcing the fact that Nina has now gone fully mainstream.
My two favourite tracks on the album are, tellingly, the two demo tracks recorded in Nesbitt’s own Niightwatch Studios: Masquerade and the demo of Chewing Gum. These see Nesbitt going back to her classic sound, stripped back to her husky vocals, an acoustic guitar and a piano. Without any electronic distraction, the focus is 100% on her soft voice and beautiful lyrics. Masquerade is hauntingly beautiful, and the emotion in Chewing Gum comes through so much more effectively. I like these songs so much that I would even go so far to say that Masquerade is one of my favourite Nina songs so far. Here’s hoping it’s not completely over-produced for the next album, as it is definitely the saving grace of the EP.
Whilst it’s refreshing to hear a new sound from Nesbitt, I don’t think it was a genre switch that necessarily had to happen just yet. I would have without a question bought Nina’s next release had she stuck with her classic sound. Now? I’m not so sure.