A Way Forward by Nation of Language Album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions

PIAS

7.7

Nation of Language

A Way Forward

“But can you feel the quickening / Seven million moments down to one,” Ian Devaney of the synth pop revival Nation of Language sings on their latest album, A Way Forward. That is a good description of the craft of songwriting, especially for this Brooklyn band that dives deep emotionally, and wrings life and past experience of its sweetest and most sorrowful juice on each of their songs. This is the second album, after their critically acclaimed Introduction, Presence, which was a fitting “introduction” and a powerful “presence,” that led to sold out shows across America, including performances at The Governor’s Ball and KEXP.

“But can you feel the quickening / Seven million moments down to one,” Ian Devaney of the synth pop revival Nation of Language sings on their latest album, A Way Forward. That is a good description of the craft of songwriting, especially for this Brooklyn band that dives deep emotionally, and wrings life and past experience of its sweetest and most sorrowful juice on each of their songs. This is the second album, after their critically acclaimed Introduction, Presence, which was a fitting “introduction” and a powerful “presence,” that led to sold out shows across America, including performances at The Governor’s Ball and KEXP.

They are avid students of Krautrock and 80’s electronic music, but looked back even further to the genesis of electronic music in the 70s for this album. “We aimed to more deeply trace the roots of our sound, hoping to learn something from the early influences of our early influences. Experimenting with how they might be reinterpreted in our modern context — looking further backward to find a way forward,” Devaney says of their latest album. Looking further backward to find a way forward is their modus operandi, not just in their throwback/shoot forward sound, but in their highly introspective and yearning lyrical content.

“Can I ever get past the wounds of love? / No.” It is melancholy and ardor fit for a Joy Division record, with a fair sonic nod to those synth-pop pioneers. “D’you think that I could simulate / My life, but done a better way / In this fractured mind.” “My former self says I could be someone.” As many of us relate to music, it feels as if Devaney and crew found their emotional identity in bands of the past and are trying to recreate/recapture that feeling in their tracks, and they do a bang up job at both emulating and revolutionizing the best of the 80’s era electronic music.

With pulsing synths, melodic bass, and Devaney’s evocative, resonant voice, they create little sonic worlds of nostalgia and artfulness. From the first frenetic synthesizer notes, of the opener “In Manhattan,” to the string pads and adventurous robotic lead that fill the last and most hopeful song of the record, “They’re Beckoning,” they experiment with sound in the familiar synth-pop color palette. It is like opening a time capsule, listening to this record, both of Devaney’s past life, on what feels like full display, and the genesis of modern music. “Aching for something you could save / A word and a wave,” they sing on the song of the same title. Nation of Language succeed, once again, at offering a new wave record that thrills in its emotional depth and its sonic questing.

Order A Way Forward by Nation of Language HERE