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Review: Synth band Nation of Language make a nifty debut

This cover image shows "Introduction, Presence" the self-released album by Nation of Language. (Nation of Language via AP)
April 01, 2020 - 1:50 PM

Nation of Language, “Introduction, Presence” (self-released)

Come, friends, let us return to the near-distant musical past, thanks to the new band Nation of Language. Back to when synths were thick and hair was teased.

The Brooklyn-based trio has made a very '80s splash on their debut album “Introduction, Presence,” with many songs not out of place if they were on “The Breakfast Club” soundtrack. And yet it also sounds utterly fresh.

There are clear echoes on the excellent 10-track collection of New Wave icons like New Order, Depeche Mode, Erasure, The The, Yazoo and Pet Shop Boys, but also more than a hint of The National.

Nation of Language is made up of vocalist Ian Devaney, his keyboardist-wife Aidan Devaney and bassist Michael Sui-Poi. They combine to create spare song architectures and smartly avoid the silly flourishes that made some '80s-era music dated.

The lyrics are a sort of melancholic global urban lament, with Ian Devaney often in cars or streets seeking solace amid modern alienation.

“Save us, save us saints from above,” he sings on “Rush & Fever,” one of the standout tracks. Another, “On Division St,” he states, “I would like to find the answers I was always rudely denied.” Other exceptional tunes include “Friend Machine” and “September Again.”

On “Indignities,” Ian Devaney plays the role of a disgruntled curmudgeon, perhaps like one generation talking to another. “Everything's changing faster than me,” he sings. “The crass, the new, the heathen, and the low/when I'm alone/pouring it into my home.”

Few albums are better titled — it's definitely an introduction and this band makes quite a presence.


Mark Kennedy is at

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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