Review: Northern Lite – Letters and Signs Part One

Germany’s Northern Lite are notoriously hit or miss. Sometimes they reach a level of pretension that’s hard to fathom, other times they hit on a melody or hook that is equally mind-blowing. Their newest effort, Letters & Signs Part One is an interesting leap for the band with some unfortunate signs but a lot of positive ones.

A band built in the classic hybrid image – drum machines abound, synths burble and guitars and bass thrum confidently through the mix, they have now taken a turn for the rock and thrown something of a knee to the groin of their electronic side. And the new ballsy Northern Lite actually works pretty well.

What’s key to this new effort is their gift for a good hook remains unchallenged. A band that has more often than not sounded like pretty straightforward electronic rock now sounds more like an early 80’s rock band with an electronic influence. Normally this would be a bit of a dark cloud for Softsynth but these guys manage to make it work on the strength of rock-solid songwriting. The title track was a harbinger of the album to come. A tight rock song with a few synths thrown in for atmosphere it was a sharp right turn for the band into new territory. The hook works and while the song may be a little forgettable after the fact, for those three minutes and two seconds they have you, like it or not. Track after track it’s the same story. None of the memorable moments we’ve heard from the band in previous songs like “Gone”, “Treat Me Better” or “Reach the Sun” but a lot of pleasant melodies make for an enjoyable listening experience. There are some truly choice tracks on the album including the surprisingly bluesy jam of “Bill Gates” (“Bill Gates can save the world for us”), the power chord rocker “All For Myself”, and the synth-bass-driven “Why Do We Stay” and the awesome “Gimme Your Number” which smacks of early 80’s Cars (the second time we’ve noticed such a comparison in recent weeks after reviewing the new Dragonette album – we are witnessing something of  a Cars moment raining upon our heads?); and while a bit of a “sameness” creeps in as the tracks fly by, one after the other, the song craftsmanship remains high throughout the album.

Is this the most memorable album you’ll listen to this year? Hells no, but it’s more than serviceable, reminds us of the songwriting prowess of the band and marks what may be their tightest, most successful album to date.

Watch: Letters & Signs


One Response to “Review: Northern Lite – Letters and Signs Part One”

  1. pteittinen Says:

    Awful. Just bloody awful.

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