Single Review: Northern American – Wander

By on Thursday, 30th January 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

Los Feliz four-piece, synth pop band Northern American have managed to carve a unique niche in the American West Coast sound, somewhere between the hazy dream pop of bands like Mazzy Star or Local Natives and the frenetic energy of lo-fi garage bands like Deap Vally or FIDLAR. Their new single, ‘Wander’, was released last week on Heist or Hit Records. ‘Wander’ and its B-side ‘Record Forever’ both also feature on Northern American’s EP release ‘Happiness Hungover’.

‘Wander’ is at the same time mellow and upbeat, with ambient electronic sounds, shimmering keyboards and guitars over a resonant pulsing bass and lightly skipping drum rhythm. Lead singer and guitarist Nate Paul’s vocal tone is smoothly languid from the track’s opening lyrics, “Wander where you’ll go / I’ve been here before / We’ve waited for you / It’s all we ever do” through to the lilting closing lines, “dream all day / dance all night / dream all day / wander far away.” In the interim, the song slowly evolves into a rather surprising drum solo in the bridge before easing its way back to the familiar bass pulse and guitar riff. The song definitely wanders, but the blocked chord texture of the keyboard rhythm holds it together in the end.

The single’s B-side, ‘Record Forever’ is also loungey and laid-back, both hazy in texture and deeply reverberant. Paul’s velvety vocal tone shifts into an equally smooth high register during the rhythmically lurching chorus, “you are the record that spins inside of me / my heart / forever.” While perhaps less sophisticated than ‘Wander’, ‘Record Forever’ is certainly the catchier of the two tracks, as its uneven rhythmic pattern echoes both in the head and on the hips.

If the subject matter of ‘Wander’ and ‘Record Forever’ is a bit superficial, that naïve quality can be attributed to Northern American’s youthfully organic nature and collaborative songwriting technique. The band’s Facebook page quotes Paul: “We’re always changing. Our music is really free. We try to be as loose with it as possible; it’s the best version of all of us.” Northern American are currently in the studio working on their first full album, anticipated for release this summer.

7/10

‘Wander’, the latest single from Northern American, is available now on Heist or Hit Records. Both tracks are available to stream below.

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