Of all the new artists that we discovered over the last twelve months, Saskatchewan synth-rockers Hearts & Knives were one in particular that stood out for me as a newcomer with a very bright musical future ahead of them. Founded by Steven Eisler (vocals/keyboards) and Robert Lane (bass), and joined later by Eder Garzona (percussion), Hearts & Knives quickly staked their claim on the retro synth-rock genre with their debut release, “Braggadocio.”
During a conversation with Steven Eisler about “Braggadocio” last September, he announced that the band dismissed the conventional approach of releasing an EP to coincide with the single, and opted instead to keep their audience engaged by releasing fresh material (singles) every two-three months at a time. And, on cue, the follow up single “It Is What It Is” was available across popular music platforms last November. Just two months into the new year, and Hearts & Knives are back once more, with the brand new single, “Florence Nightingale,” slated for a Valentines Day release. Recorded at the Roman Empire Studios in Regina, the band offer yet another stunning track, that sees Eisler joining forces again with Lane and Garzona, and credit guitar duties to Jason Legendre this time around.
Opening with an eerie synth intro, itself a complete contrast to the indie-synth laced alt-rock territory that the band explored last time around, “Florence Nightingale” demonstrates a much slower and incredibly atmospheric pace. Opening with the lines, “Dearest Florence Nightingale have you come to hold me hostage? \ Oh show and tell now speak and spell educate me of your practice,” Eislers’ vocals and deliberate piano strokes conjure up a haunting image; no distorted guitars or vocal aggression, but instead some frequent ringing guitar cries courtesy of Legendre.
Based on their earlier releases, the listener surely anticipates that the mellow nature of “Florence Nightingale” is destined for a crash course with the traditional Hearts & Knives sound. Once Eisler approaches the end of the second verse, his voice is already ratcheting up that intensity, inviting the heavier guitar and synth-laden rock expected from this SK quartet to accompany and further accentuate his pain. And then, boom! Vintage Heart & Knives sound fills our ears as we discover the pulsating energy from the bridge: “Can you see my face in every man from now on? \ Can you hear my voice every day and so on? \ I’ll take your breath away, with just one thought today \ I’ll leave you in dismay, you’re on your own today!”
As the adrenaline runs, the heart rate subsides a little thanks to a brief pause, and echoing fade after that burst. Calmness and serenity return, both musically and vocally. And just like that, “Florence Nightingale” is over. Hearts & Knives seem confident with this abrupt closure, ending with a short final fade that comes quickly, and leaving this particular listener craving at least one more foray into that darker and edgier side of their nature. Yes, they have me right where they want me. I’m craving more. I expect more. And once again the clock is ticking…..two-three months from now is the potential promise of the next installment.