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 of The Static Joys, a band that became largely inactive after the release of their 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.
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 the outside world.
Nation of Language’s full-length debut, Introduction, Presence was released to critical praise, landing on the Best Albums of 2020 lists for Rough Trade, KEXP, Paste, Stereogum, Under The Radar and PopMatters. The Brooklyn-based pop trio capped off the year with the “A Different Kind of Light”/”Deliver Me From Wondering Why” 7 inch, which featured the A Flock of Seagulls meets Simple Minds-like “Deliver Me From Wondering Why.”
Late last year, the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays released their critically applauded sophomore album A Way Forward, which featured lead album single “Across That Fine Line.” Featuring glistening synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, Devaney’s plaintive vocals and an enormous, rousingly anthemic hook, “Across That Fine Line” continues the band’s remarkable run of decidedly 80s synth pop inspired material. Certainly, as a child of the 80s, the song reminds me of the aforementioned A Flock of Seagulls, as well as Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones and a few others — and much like the sources that inspired it, the song is centered around earnest, lived-in songwriting.
“‘Across That Fine Line’ is a reflection on that moment when a non-romantic relationship flips into something different,” Nation of Language’s Devaney explains in press notes. “When the air in the room suddenly feels like it changes in an undefinable way. It’s a kind of celebration of that certain joyous panic, and the uncertainty that surfaces right after it.
“Sonically, it’s meant to feel like running down a hill, just out of control. I had been listening to a lot of Thee Oh Sees at the time of writing it and admiring the way they supercharge krautrock rhythms and imbue them with a kind of mania, which felt like an appropriate vibe to work with and make our own.”