LoneLady, or Julie Campbell to her mum, is a solo Mancunian with a debt to her home city. Her debut album is built from the monochrome, sparse bricks of Manchester’s Factory Records, with echoes of New Order and A Certain Ratio, and also from the one-finger riffs of early 90’s Manc electro. Instrumentally, it’s a Spartan record (most tracks feature just drum machine and solo guitar) and Campbell’s vocal frostiness makes her very difficult to love initially. But what at first appears to be all spike and guardedness – the skittering, clipped singing, the arid production, the mechanical percussion – becomes strangely muscular and warm over time. Like The XX last year, ‘Nerve Up’ is a record that only improves with repeated listens. It may only be February, but it could well be the sleeper hit of the year.

By Sam Walton

More from