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Nation of Language - Strange Disciple (Album Review)

Monday, 25 September 2023 Written by Craig Howieson

Photo: Shervin Lainez

Presiding over a melting pot of nostalgic new wave, motorik rhythms and dancefloor-ready basslines, Brooklyn’s Nation of Language possess the ability to move listeners both physically and emotionally.

An unexpected, but not undeserved, success story, their 2020 debut record ‘Introduction, Presence’ was only made possible when band members Ian Devaney and Aidan Noell got married and asked for money to fund recording sessions as opposed to gifts. 

It proved to be a sound investment from their guests, and ‘Introduction, Presence’, along with the following year’s ‘A Way Forward’, set the band on a trajectory that would have been unfathomable a few short years ago.

Their latest release ‘Strange Disciple’ is yet another high point for the three piece and perhaps their most well-rounded work to date. But its real strength lies in the multiple shades of the human experience it immerses itself in. 

On Opener Weak In Your Light, Devaney sounds haunted by spirits he can’t quite grasp. As probing synth lines stalk him through the verses the band explore an ominous dark side to their sound that places them in the grey malaise of their heavy post-punk influences. It makes the bouncy, staccato Sole Obsession feel all the lighter, as feet start to creep onto the dancefloor. 

Having been produced by Nick Millhiser, who is a live member of LCD Soundsystem, it is perhaps no surprise that the band manage to channel the same New York cool into their sound as James Murphy did a couple of decades ago. And for music as indebted to ‘80s Manchester as it is ‘00s NYC it shouldn’t be as catchy as this, and yet it is. 

Exploring obsession, compulsion and even revulsion, ‘Strange Disciple’ does often dwell in the shadows, but those shadows are pierced with strobes of hope and optimism. Going out on a high, A New Goodbye and I Will Never Learn dance in the warmth of the last rays of a setting sun, and in their understated and uplifting way Nation of Language have created another record that will capture listeners' hearts.

Nation Of Language Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed September 27 2023 - LONDON Heaven
Thu September 28 2023 - BRIGHTON Concorde 2
Fri September 29 2023 - BRISTOL Marble Factory
Sat September 30 2023 - NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
Wed October 04 2023 - MANCHESTER New Century
Thu October 05 2023 - LEEDS Leeds University Stylus
Fri October 06 2023 - SHEFFIELD Foundry
Sat October 07 2023 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Boiler Shop

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