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Nia Archives ‘Silence Is Loud’ review: Jungle revivalist proves she’s the real deal

On her debut album, the Jungle scene-leader breaks new ground and proves she's an exciting new voice in UK music

5.0 rating

By Ben Jolley

Nia Archives
Nia Archives (Picture: Lola Banet)

The music of Nia Archives transcends the rave more than most club- rooted artists. But, ever since her bedroom-start breakthrough in 2020, the DJ, producer, singer and songwriter has imbued her jungle heaters with heartfelt emotion. It’s for this reason — as well as the TikTok-aided rise in popularity of drum’n’bass and jungle — that she has become one of the UK’s biggest names.

Having introduced a new generation of clubgoers to the scene via her collagist soundscapes which obliterate conventional ideas of the genre, the long wait for the Bradford-born, Leeds-raised artist’s debut album is over, and the outcome proves it was more than worth it. Silence is Loud boasts plenty of intense bass lines to keep jungle purists satisfied, but the record’s intricately detailed, narrative-driven songs make this a collection to be experienced in full, from start to finish.

Building on the heart-on-sleeve terrain of her third EP, Sunrise Bang Ur Head Against tha Wall, the 13-tracker is deeply personal and affecting. As alluded to in its fittingly multi-layered title, the 24-year-old producer, DJ, singer and songwriter may have ascended to a life of headline tours, global festivals, fashion shows and daytime radio plays, but that doesn’t mean it’s all glitz and glamour. Sometimes, spending time alone can often be more challenging than being in a room full of people. The loneliness that follows a massive show or career-high moment can feel like an elevator crashing to the floor.

The spiralling screams of the album’s opening title track, which makes a great if unlikely pairing of jungle and gloomy Britpop, channel this dichotomy of melancholy and euphoria perfectly. Fellow sad banger ‘Crowded Roomz’ has the same impact thanks to its rippling guitar riffs and ominous piano keys. Both tracks are sure to resonate with anyone struggling with their mental health.

While Archives spends time in reflective mode, elsewhere the record is full of songs about love and heartbreak. Sequenced early on, the acoustic guitar strums and singalong chorus of ‘Cards on the Table’ conjure the type of infatuated pop song that you might hear on a summer holiday — just with added jungle breaks. ‘Tell Me What It’s Like’, contrastingly, channels her frustration with an uncaring love interest, while the brilliant, relatable opening line of ‘Nightmares’ — “All of my friends hate you / To be fair I do too” — recalls the razor-sharp pen of early Lily Allen.

The album’s biggest surprise, however, is the reprise of ‘Silence is Loud’, which demonstrates a raw vulnerability not unlike Adele. By stripping away the backing production and leaving just poignant piano keys, the gear change affords Nia the space to showcase the range of her vocal.

By using jungle music as the core foundation, but weaving in diaristic, often heart-stirring lyricism and elements of other disparate genres (there’s even a flute on ‘Out of Options’), Nia Archives breaks the rules time and again to build a sonic world of her own.