Nation of Language’s Introduction, Presence is a beautiful stroll through lost and lonely ballads. Striking a chord somewhere between the atmospheric rhythm of LSD Soundsystem and the vocals of the National, Nation of Language constructed a highly refined album for their debut. The three-member band consists of Ian Devaney and Michael Sue-Poi from the Static Jacks, with the addition of Aidan Noell on the synthesizer. As a group, they have been releasing singles since 2016, with Introduction, Presence being the culmination of their steady work. The years of refinement are surely noticed and coalesce in a solid album from front to back.
Story-centric lyrics fill each song, with reminiscent stretches of instrumentals separating the short and punchy choruses. In the song, “September Again” Devaney sings to an audience who has found themselves in the repetitive rut, “Flipping through the same old books / But you’re reading less”. It calls out to those who have found themselves in a comfortable pattern by leaving behind the variable dynamism they had in their youth. The repeating lyrics hold a mirror up to the audience, similar to “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads, identifying with new adults whose pleasant days are disappearing from memory.
Nation of Language has one foot firmly planted in rock-funk, with another step bouncing between alternative and indie. Similar to the art-funk bands they’ve been compared to, Nation of Language can get an audience dancing as well as thinking. The songs often deal with striving for something better but struggling to just quite reach it. From hitting a wall searching for love to missing a sense of meaning from one’s life, Nation of Language pulls at the emotions of those with a fading sense of wonder, but with the urge to still hold on.
If there is a key to the soul, it is likely through music. Nation of Language has patiently honed their craft over the years and their resulting introduction is a strong base of music without the flashy bells and whistles of mainstream pop. Having self-released the album, the bandmates maintain full control and produced an album 100% authentic to themselves. For those looking for an updated take on the art-rock of the eighties and nineties, Nation of Language has a steady well of musical talent to pull from for years to come.