Strange Disciple by Nation of Language album review by Adam Fink for Northern Transmissions. The trio's full-length drops on 9/15 via PIAS


Strange Disciple

Nation of Language

At the time the synths and programmed drums, shimmering guitars and romantic vocals of the 80s post punk and new wave scenes were the most forward thinking musical movement that had happened in some time. Over the last few years there has been a resurgence of those sounds and the bands that make up these specific scenes just seem to be growing more and more popular. The main criticism that is heard about this revival is that many of the acts are no more than a pastime of the artists that have come before.

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Can there be any originality anymore or are we destined to hear just warmed over versions of the classics everyone has already heard? If it’s up to Nation Of Language then the future is in good hands. The Brooklyn based trio, Richard Devaney (lead vocals, guitar, synthesizer, percussion), Aidan Noell (synthesizer, backing vocals), and Alex MacKay (bass guitar), trade in the kind of neon nostalgia of their predecessors but there is nothing here that feels like simple imitation. Their new album and third in as many years, Strange Disciple out September 15th via PIAS, is a sparkling reminder of the groups ability to take the atheistic pleasures of the past and mix them with incredible songwriting, musicianship and forward thinking that leaves the majority of their contemporaries lurking in heavily trodden graveyards.

Right off the “bat”, the main touchstone you would notice is Depeche Mode. Nation Of Language’s sound is a lot similar to that bands early output in their ability to combine numerous hook laden synth parts, new romantic sequence vocals and still enough space to feel the longing in the lyrics but it never sounds old. “Weak In Your Light” features a bubbling gem of a synth line and Devaney’s sorrowful yet uplifting vocals off the top before the entire proceedings soar in the track’s beautiful chorus. Devaney’s vocal stylings at certain points resemble that of iconic Scottish singer Jimmy Somerville. When he belts out, “I’m in love” in the song’s chorus it hits the same spots in your brain that Somerville so easily captured in his material. “Too Much, Enough” musically feels a little like something you would hear on a classic Peter Gabriel record with the sputtering percussion and crystalline organ but when Devaney starts singing it completely becomes the band’s own thing. There is also a fun nod to the aforementioned Depeche Mode, not only in the name of the track but the call and response nature of the chorus. It’s pretty endearing.

The balancing act of adhering to your musical heroes and branching out on your own path can be hard for many artists but Nation Of Language seem to be able to handle themselves beautifully. Their polished and precise brand of contemporary new wave is some of the best out there and if you are a fan of the genre, stuck in the dusty confines of your old record collection, there will be so much here for you to never feel let down again.

Pre-order Strange Disciple by Nation of Language HERE


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