Formed in 2016, Brooklyn’s Nation of Language is a band that uses synthesizers rather than a synthesizer band, if that’s clear.
Taking 1980s synth-pop and post-punk bands as a starting point, Nation of Language hits all the stops without sounding overly derivative. There are clear references to the sound of Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Simple Minds, Joy Division, Depeche Mode, and many others. But Introduction, Presence comes across as a lost album recorded contemporaneously with these influences, so great is its attention to detail. Ian Richard Devaney’s baritone voice is perfect in conveying a sense of weary, yet hopeful ambiance of the lyrics. His guitar work is excellent as well, driving tracks like “Indignities” (which features Strokes’ drummer Fabrizio Moretti). Listeners are right to pick up on the influence of Joy Division and New Order here, but I think many have missed the influence of Echo and the Bunnymen and The Cure on Nation of Language.
While it’s evident that NOL has been influenced by these past groups, they are not merely a synth-pop resurrection act. Introduction, Presence arrives fully informed by the work of more recent groups such as Future Islands, Destroyer, and The War on Drugs. These bands have worked to ensure that this thread of post-punk synth exploration remains a vital genre in contemporary music, and NOL caps it off by taking their influences seriously and yet branding the genre with their own personality.
Aiden Noell/Prepositional Phrase (single)
Aiden is one-third of Nation of Language, handling most of the synth work for the band–no minor task. Here she offers a solo track that, frankly, is every bit as good as the music on Introduction, Presence.