Repetition is definitely the key to this first Nord Express record, repetition followed by catharsis. Not catharsis in the Mogwai/Slint sense of the word -- there are no explosive assaults to deaden you to sensitivity. This is catharsis in the sense of the songs of Galaxie 500 -- elements build on top of each other before spilling out into a finale of energy and tension. The group slowly layers fragments of melodies that sound slightly broken and aids them with repeated vocal lines and a buried, far-off drum sound. It's the simple accompaniment with strummed guitar lines that makes it all work. Rob Goldrick's vocals might bring up memories of Calvin Johnson, while songs like "The Calm" and "The Letter" do their best to reinstate the fact that pop may be pure without being perfect. The latter track is especially strong and makes the most of its crisp, shambling drums. A song like "Around the World" envelops the listener with its three-part harmonies, despite the fact that the vocals are mumbled and scattered. That's what makes Nord Express work -- a dedication to pop sound and an understanding of how music affects the listener. Expectations are slowly dropped aside as familiar elements of the best in guitar pop -- from the Go-Betweens to Galaxie 500 -- are slowly meted out back to the listener, delicately and knowingly.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jon Pruett