A Way Forward Nation of Language

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  • 1In Manhattan03:54
  • 2Across That Fine Line05:25
  • 3Wounds of Love03:19
  • 4Miranda03:42
  • 5The Grey Commute03:38
  • 6This Fractured Mind05:21
  • 7Former Self05:11
  • 8Whatever You Want04:54
  • 9A Word & A Wave03:52
  • 10They're Beckoning04:49
  • Total Runtime44:05

Info for A Way Forward

A Way Forward is the follow up to Nation of Language’s debut album, Introduction, Presence (2020). While much of the sounds on the band's previous record garnered comparisons to the synth-punk sound of the 80’s, on this new offering the band delved heavily into the Krautrock pioneers and electronic experimentalists of the 70’s for inspiration in the studio, stretching their boundaries in new and different ways.

Discussing, Devaney added, “‘A Way Forward’ is an exploration of the band’s relationship to the music of the 70s, through the lenses of krautrock and early electronic music. We aimed to more deeply trace the roots of our sound, hoping to learn something from the early influences of our early influences. Experimenting with how they might be reinterpreted in our modern context - looking further backward to find a way forward. We drew a lot from the steady locomotive rhythms of bands like Kraftwerk and Neu!, while also looking to less-propulsive electronic artists like Laurie Spiegel and Cluster. The goal was to have a record that felt like a journey, like being on a train that gets lost in a colorful fog, and then suddenly bursts through into different landscapes. Thematically, some of those landscapes are familiar in their melancholy, but we also wanted to introduce celebration and joy in a way that hadn’t really been present in our previous album. Having these bursts of positivity felt like it gave the emotional low points more resonance, giving a stronger sense of emotional reality to the album overall.”

Recorded during the lockdowns of 2020, production on the record was divided between Abe Seiferth (who worked on Introduction, Presence) and Nick Milhiser of Holy Ghost!

"At its conception, Nation of Language was directly inspired by Ian Devaney hearing his father play Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "Electricity" upon returning home following the dissolution of his band the Static Jacks. Switching from a pop-punk-leaning indie rock to a glistening merger of murky post-punk and brooch-bedecked synth pop, he teamed up with new bandmates and producer Abe Seiferth (Yeasayer, Computer Magic) for a well-received debut, Introduction, Presence (2020), that led to a record deal with PIAS and sold-out headlining dates. Featuring tracks produced separately by Seiferth and Holy Ghost!'s Nick Millhiser, the follow-up, A Way Forward, mostly retains that album's contrived, early '80s-inclined surfaces and efficient bass grooves while dipping into earlier Krautrock and experimental influences. Opening track "In Manhattan," for example, serves as an exposition more than a song, with Devaney's weary, half-spoken vocals ("In Manhattan, you cannot have it all") appearing over programmed arpeggiated chords and deeper, throbbing synth tones. The track's spacious instrumentation gradually expands to include a 16th-note hi-hat pattern and pulsing, pitched voice samples. Unearthly, layered sung vocals eventually rise above the rest before being overtaken by buzzy synths -- though the ceaseless arpeggiation wins out in the end. The intro's amorphous structure and heterogeneous timbres open the door for more experimentation, if the rest of the songs land squarely in '80s U.K. radio territory. Among the poppier standouts are midtempo heartbreaker "Wounds of Love," a borderline hum-along track with its oh-oh-oh backing countermelody, and the more staccato, robotic "This Fractured Mind." Taking a slightly darker, punkier turn, "Across That Fine Line" adds woven synths and guitar to its worried choruses as bobbing heads continue to gallop along with its brisk syncopated bass and tinny snare. Sociopolitical anxiety informs "The Grey Commute," while the self-examining "Former Self" substitutes an era-appropriate synth voice for harpsichord on a quasi-Baroque lament. That song eventually adds low string tones and clattering found-object-type percussion. The detailing and variable arrangements here, combined with engaging songs, lift A Way Forward above the level of genre exercise, occasionally into something more compositional, as on the final two tracks. Meanwhile, lyrics like "Do you think that I could simulate my life/But done a better way?" maybe never went out of fashion." (Marcy Donelson, AMG)

Nation of Language

Nation of Language
The icy, post-punk-inspired synth pop of Nation of Language is the creation of Ian Devaney, who was inspired by the early work of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Taking the project in its own refined, melancholy direction, he and bandmates presented Nation of Language's full-length debut, Introduction, Presence, in 2020.

The seeds of Nation of Language were planted when the label release of a second album by Devaney's one-time high-school band the Static Jacks fell through in 2013, ultimately leaving him back at his parents' in New Jersey. His father played OMD's "Electricity," a song Devaney was familiar with but hadn't heard since he was a schoolkid, in the car one day. Hearing it inspired him to try to write something similar, as an exercise. The resulting track was "Laudanum," which ended up on Nation of Language's eponymous debut EP in 2015.

Over the next few years, a Brooklyn-based Devaney continued to write and release songs for the project's rotating lineup, including 2016's "What Does the Normal Man Feel?" and 2017's "Indignities," both of which were produced by Abe Seiferth (Phonograph, Yeasayer). The latter song featured Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti, who also joined the band on tour as bassist in the second half of 2017. Other members during this period included Michael Sui-Poi and Andrew Santora, both of the Static Jacks, and Devaney's then- fiancée, Aidan Noell, on synths. Following a tour in support of the Wombats, Nation of Language issued the track "Reality" in mid-2018, then went to work on a full-length debut.

The lineup of Devaney, Noell, and Sue-Poi emerged with the Seiferth-produced Introduction, Presence in May of 2020. Moretti contributed drums to two of the tracks, including "Indignities." (Marcy Donelson, AMG)

This album contains no booklet.

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