ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Nation of Language, “Introduction, Presence”

Every year, a band comes along that borrows heavily from the late ’80s synth-driven school of Joy Division/New Order, OMD, etc.. It’s a style where the lyrics don’t matter as much as the mood. Nation of Language’s debut album is a collection of previously released singles, and although they all are in the ’80s synthpop style, each is very distinctive in how it uses that sound to build. “On Division St” for example, which is my personal favorite track, has an optimistic bop(think “Blue Monday”), where opening cut “Tournament” is a slower hipsway. “September Again,” about trying to recapture old feelings of faith and connection, feels openly nostalgic, where “Indignities” almost feels like rolling menace (think Depeche Mode), especially with its extended instrumental jam. “Automobile” is an obvious single. Every song here has a reason to exist.

A great debut album!

Runner Up: I lied in the first sentence of today’s post. I should have said that every year, a lot of bands come along that borrow heavily from the late ’80s synth-driven school… Like Highlander, there can be only one that’s the best, and this year (so far) it’s Nation of Language. But Spectre’s “Nostalgia” is a worthy second best. Overall, the album doesn’t feel as unique as NoL’s debut–the songs are thematically and musically much more similar to each other–but individually there are singles-oriented cuts like “Dreams” that are actually better than what’s on the NoL record. In short, it feels more marketable and mainstream. Which is not an insult. Like I said, it’s a very close second to NoL.

You won’t go wrong with either of these records.

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