Rising Brooklyn-based synth pop trio and JOVM mainstays Nation of Language — — Ian Richard Devaney (vocals, guitars, percussion), Aidan Noell (synth, vocals) and Michael Sue-Poi (bass) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Devaney and Sue-Poi were members off The Static Joys, a band that became largely inactive after the release of that band’s sophomore album. And as the story goes, Devaney was inspired to start a new project after hearing OMD‘s “Electricity,” a song he had listened to quite a bit while in his father’s car.
Interestingly, what initially started out as Devaney fooling around on a keyboard eventually evolved to Nation of Language with the addition of Noell and Sue-Poi. Between 2016-2019, the Brooklyn-based synth pop trio released a handful of singles that helped to build up a fanbase locally and elsewhere.
Last year’s full-length debut, Introduction, Presence was released to critical praise, landing on the Best Albums of 2020 lists of Rough Trade, KEXP, Paste, Stereogum, Under The Radar and PopMatters. They capped off a massive 2020 with the A Different Kind of Light”/”Deliver Me From Wondering Why” 7 inch, which featured the A Flock of Seagulls and Simple Minds-like “Deliver Me From Wondering Why.”
The Brooklyn-based trio’s highly-anticipated Abe Seiferth and Nick Milhiser-co-produced sophomore album A Way Forward is slated for a November 5, 2021 release. Reportedly, the album’s material is deeply indebted to 70s Krautrock and electronic experimentalists, essentially pushing their sound towards a new direction. Last month, I wrote about A Way Forward‘s first single, the Flock of Seagulls-like “Across That Fine Line,” a song that the band’s Ian Devaney explains “is a reflection on thant moment when a non-romantic relationship flips into something different. When the air in the room suddenly feels like it changes in an undefinable way. It’s kind of a celebration of that certain joyous panic, and the uncertainty that surfaces right after it.”
“Wounds of Love,” A Way Forward‘s second and latest single is a slow-burning and woozy song centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a motorik groove, skittering four-on-the-floor and a soaring hook. The end result is a breezy and infectious song that gently plumbs the depths of heartache and loss in a way that sonically — to my ears, at least — bears a resemblance to The Cars “Drive.”
“‘Wounds of Love’ is a song about getting caught in a mental feedback loop when a relationship ends,” Nation of Langauge’s Devaney explains. ” It’s an endless inner argument – wanting to move on defiantly, but feeling utterly lost about how to do it when the other person has informed so much about how you see yourself. For every bit of progress, there’s just as much retreating, and eventually, it seems like this back-and-forth becomes the new root of your identity – still tied to the same person, just without them actually being there.
“During its creation, the song was really born out of the main riff – I was experimenting with synth sounds and delay pedals, trying to find something that felt kind of like Man Machine-era Kraftwerk, and this simple melody just flowed out. At first, the urge was to go very robotic with it, but a laid-back groove fell into place and gave everything a really warm, spacey, stoned feeling, which felt like it amplified the emotional haze that the song deals with.”
The last quarter of the year will see the members of the Brooklyn synth pop act embarking on their first headlining tour and the tour includes a September 10, 2021 stop at Bowery Ballroom.
08/27-29 – Reading-Leeds, UK @ Reading/Leeds Fest
09/09 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
09/10 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
09/11 – Boston, MA @ The Sinclair
09/25 – Queens, NY @ Governors Ball
09/30 – Montreal, PQ @ Bar le Ritz
10/01 – Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
10/02 – Detroit, MI @ Tangent Gallery
10/03 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
10/04 – Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
10/05 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
10/08 – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar
10/09 – Denver, CO @ Lost Lake
10/10 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall
10/14 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
10/15 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studio
10/17 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
10/19 – Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room
10/20 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
10/22 – Anaheim, CA @ The Parish
10/23 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
10/27 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
10/29 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
10/30 – Chapel Hill @ Cat’s Cradle
10/31 – Washington DC @ Songbyrd