Novo Amor’s music has been featured in TV or film 24 times. Why? His wispy voice and the melancholic music supporting it make you feel like you’re flying.

Though Novo Amor — the stage name of Ali Lacey — has diverted away from his wholly despondent roots with his latest album, Cannot Be, Whatsoever, he isn’t gone completely. On the experimental album, he just sounds happier, his honeyed vocals bouncing off upbeat keys, vibrant guitars and even some alien-esque synths. He still has a couple dismal tracks that remind fans of two things: he will always have something for every mood, and he will continue to revert to old habits — because even he knows how good it is.

The Welsh singer first released music — that is, a two-track single — under Novo Amor in 2012. He released two EPs, Woodgate, NY and Bathing Beach, in 2014 and 2016, respectively. In 2017, the multi-instrumentalist dropped a collaborative LP, Heiress, with Ed Tullett. The following year, he solidified his name as a vibey indie folk artist with his first solo LP, Birthplace. Once the 2019 teen romance flick Five Feet Apart put “Anchor” and “State Lines” in its soundtrack, Novo Amor and his moody bops were brought to the forefront, where they should be.

Cannot Be, Whatsoever is a change of pace, something that takes a few listens, but it’s in no way off-putting. “Opaline” has the potential to be a pop hit, as the repetitive, cheerful keys accentuate Novo Amor’s relief that he’s finally starting to get over his heartbreak, though it almost feels out of place as an opener. “Statue Of A Woman,” the 117-second instrumental, is otherworldly, literally: dreamy synths dance around before an alien seemingly sucks you into its UFO, taking you far away from the place with which you’ve become so familiar. While the instrumental is intriguing, it signifies no shift in tone for the album — almost like it’s randomly thrown there. The album doesn’t exactly offer cohesiveness, but there are a select few tracks that offer a reminder of why Novo Amor deserves commercial success.

Here are the best three tracks from Novo Amor:

3. “I Feel Better”

You’ll “feel better” after listening to this track, too. Novo Amor is sick of being used, and he wants to be reassured this impending relationship won’t be a waste of his time: “I feel better most of the time / Just tell me that it’s all right, and I’ll be fine / But don’t make a mess of my love.” The brief instrumental break, with its subtle grooviness, has the power to inject motivation right into your veins.

2. “Birdcage”

Give it about 11 seconds. Once that dreary guitar line comes in, you’ll probably vividly imagine the coming days where you’ll lie down, stare at the ceiling and put “Birdcage” on repeat just to feel something. Novo Amor is blaming himself for his own sadness, even telling his loved ones it continues when he’s with them, and that it’s bound to go on tomorrow, too: “I’m letting my head collapse on itself / Could you need me now? / I can’t see how / I think I’m forgetting how to breathe out.” He claims “I’ll be better in the morning,” but it almost feels like a lie, just so they’ll stop worrying about him.

1. “Keep Me”

This is classic Novo Amor. With a seamless transition out of “Birdcage,” “Keep Me” feels reminiscent of his first two LPs: his airy vocal tone, the lifeless guitar, the strings that make you feel both nothing and everything at the same time. Novo Amor’s intrusive thoughts won’t leave, and he just wants his special someone to continue to give him a reason: “I know there’s gotta be something that I could say in time / But I can’t find the words / Keep me on fire.” The beauty of it all is almost overwhelming. “Keep Me” is a track to cling to when you just need to be reminded you’re not alone, and it’s the best on Cannot Be, Whatsoever.

Review: 3.5/5

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