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These Albums Deserve Your Attention: Nation of Language — Introduction, Presence
When listening to Nation of Language’s debut album Introduction, Presence, it’s easy to hear the new wave influences of Joy Division, New Order, and Tears for Fears. In the latter half of this decade, the indie scene has continually gone to the 80s well with mixed results. This record is confident in working outside the genre’s trappings, and instead of hanging in 1985, it more interestingly also takes the listener to 2005.
Nation of Language is a Brooklyn-based band that has been releasing singles since late 2016. Introduction, Presence collects most of these songs while adding new tracks. Consisting of Ian Richard Devaney (vocals, guitar, percussion), Aidan Noell (synth, vocals) and Michael Sue-Poi (bass), Nation of Language break free of an Ian Curtis mope by also calling back to the mid-00s scene when The National, Bloc Party, and the Arcade Fire were taking off. The album even features Fab Morretti of The Strokes playing drums on a few tracks.
This is an album that works best when driving. The opening tracks “Tournament” and “Rush & Fever” establish this feeling due to Sue-Poi’s chorus pedal bass lines that could fit right in with Peter Hook’s body of work. On “September Again,” Devaney accelerates at lending a sing-a-long chorus that has been so frustratingly absent in the scene in the last few years.
The synth work by Noell is the backbone of most of the songs as “On Division St.” finds a great arpeggio sequence that counters the drum machine percussion, and the fuzz synth lead on “Friend Machine” wouldn’t sound out of place on a Depeche Mode track. Combined with the vocals, these melodies are all pretty memorable and will be floating around the brain long after hearing them.
The post-punk track “The Motorist” features spoken verses in a low Matt Berninger register that gives way to a subdued Tears for Fears chorus. The closing track “The Wall & I” is full of nostalgia for pre-Covid times that would best be experienced live in a small club after a few beers (also, bring back epic album closers).
Introduction, Presence is one of the top debuts of the year because it walks a fine line of living in a few previous eras but never imitates and stays fresh.
Introduction, Presence is self-released and available on Bandcamp.