On Introduction, Presence Nation of Language make earnest synth-pop for the modern condition | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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On Introduction, Presence Nation of Language make earnest synth-pop for the modern condition



When the present is a slog at best and the future seems aimed off the edge of a cliff, a pair of rose-colored glasses turned toward the past can be irresistible—at any rate, that’s how Brooklyn trio Nation of Language approached their debut album, Introduction, Presence. Powered by chockablock synths, hypnotic bass grooves, and the shadowy croon of bandleader Ian Devaney (imagine Frank Sinatra at golden-era Neo), the record exhumes all the 80s new-wave hallmarks worth reviving. The group cobbled the album together over two years, popping in and out of the studio with no clear agenda besides quelling their nostalgia; they tinkered with unfamiliar instruments until melodies emerged in revelatory flares. While Nation of Language’s glossy synth patches and splintered drumbeats bow to postpunk progenitors, their lyrical subject matter is timeless: city streets peppered with emotional landmines (“On Division St.”), the lifelong tug-of-war between self-improvement and self-sabotage (“Indignities”), and love so sweet it can melt your teeth away (“Rush & Fever”). In a March interview with Boston-based online magazine Vanyaland, Devaney said, “I hoped in making this album to create the space to openly ache for something.” The space where Nation of Language have staked their claim is like a world unto itself, one that sparkles like silver and where a night’s mistakes can be washed away with a torrent of rain—and that’s exactly the type of utopia any dance-floor disciple would ache for.   v

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