Album Reviews

Nia Archives – Silence Is Loud

(Hijinx/Island) UK release date: 12 April 2024

The new face of jungle finds freeing space amidst the percussive cacophony for nods to pop, indie, RnB and soul

Nia Archives - Silence Is Loud Dehaney Nia Lishahn Hunt is a 24 year old from Bradford who’s already supported Beyoncé on her latest stadium tour, and has been widely touted as the new face of drum and bass music. The appearance of DnB legend Goldie on one track on her debut album certainly feels like the passing of some kind of torch.

However, to handily pigeonhole Nia Archives as a jungle/DnB artist would be to do her a great disservice. For, while on Silence Is Loud, there’s an almost permanent percussive cacophony, there are also nods to pop, indie, RnB and soul. And, in Hunt’s wry vocal delivery, there are more than a few nods to the mid-2000s era of Lily Allen and Kate Nash.

So, a song like Cards On The Table can begin with a gently strummed guitar, and then quickly explode into a orchestra of propulsive beats – but Hunt always makes sure that the song comes first, with a naggingly catchy chorus staying in your head. It’s a trick pulled off several times through Silence Is Loud – a song like Unfinished Business would sound pretty mighty in a club, but it also has an emotional tug to it that would sound equally impressive at home.

Nightmares brings to mind the Lily Allen comparison again, a breezy kiss-off to a ex – “All my friends hate you, to be fair, I do too” it opens, before calling him, variously “a tool”, “silly boy” and “insecure man”, and wrapping it all up with a chant of “you say ‘keep it real’, but you’re so damn fake”. It’s one of several examples where Hunt seemingly effortlessly delivers a perfect pop song in less than three minutes.

Goldie appears on Tell Me What It’s Like, and his spoken word introduction (“You gotta be different in this thing my dear, then no one can fucking stop you”) feels like a mentor passing on years of advice. Underneath the relentless beats too, there’s substance – Crowded Roomz talks of loneliness and imposter syndrome (“Misunderstood by everybody, the party girl who’s all alone”), and the closing track So Tell Me is a blissfully sad song about overthinking and anxiety.

The only flaw is that, over the course of an album (even one with the relatively short running time of 35 minutes), the unbroken sound of chaotic DnB percussion can be become a bit wearying for someone unaccustomed to the jungle sound. It’s only on the reprise of the title track that the drums are dropped, and it’s just Nia singing to a backing synth – coming towards the end of the album, it’s a startling change in sound, and a welcome one at that.

However, there’s enough evidence on Silence Is Loud to suggest that Nia Archives could be that long-awaited artist – a DnB/pop crossover artist. As it’s a debut, she’s still developing her sound, but all indications are that this is a start of a long and successful journey for Nia Archives.

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Nia Archives – Silence Is Loud