This debut by the ex-members of Wunderkind on a label owned by the record chainNewbury Comics contains five songs and lots of heart. Less derivative than their releases on Braineater and A&M, this is probably November Group in a pure, naïve state. "Pictures of the Homeland" sounds more searching than militant, Alvan Long's drums very present riding Ann Prim's precise and novel riff. Raphael Gasparello is playing the tight elastic bass prior to eventual Down Avenue musician Don Foote taking over making this limited edition E.P. a good document of the band while it was refining the dancey bouncy music regional fans loved.
"Shake It Off" has the hollow vocals that Boston acts like The Machines were lifting liberally from Devo, reprised on side two's "We Dance". "Flatland" has the sparse machine gun guitar/keys trade-off and a splashy group chorus of "hey" to break things up, but it is hard to differentiate it from "Pictures Of The Homeland", and that's the major flaw here. Intense, professional and hard working, November Group stayed within the framework of their original concept when that concept should have included, should have demanded, creative growth.
They never got out of the techno-rock rut and without melody that monotone vocal might as well have been the hammer and scythe in a machine shop it was emulating. "The Popular Dance", like everything else on this self-titled first effort, is a cool title caught in a redundant carbon copy of a tape loop. It has charm but gets tired by the time you get to the fifth track. Too bad the Wunderkind 45 wasn't included as a bonus track, the band's earlier incarnation was not as serious, and was at times more powerful.
A live album might have captured the magic more effectively than the black and white image this music projected and became in the studio, for November Group was something to be experienced in the dance venues, dark music echoing in dark clubs.