…I normally don’t like copy-pasting press-releases, but I have two reasons for doing it anyway today: first of all I don’t have the time to write a lenghty post, and second I can give two big thumbs up to anything that Matinée Recordings has to say about the debut album from Danes Northern Portrait. It is a damn fine piece of work, and you shouldn’t miss it under any circumstances! Here’s the pitch:
The highly anticipated debut album from popular Danish band Northern Portrait is now officially out! Following the very well received Fallen Aristocracy and Napoleon Sweetheart EPs in 2008, the band spent most of 2009 refining its live set with shows in the UK, Denmark, Germany and USA including performances at the prestigious San Francisco Popfest and Indietracks Festival. These shows also provided an opportunity to preview some of the songs that comprise Criminal Art Lovers to favorable response. The resulting ten track album is a triumph for the band that should help solidify their status as one of indiepop’s most loved new bands.
Lead track ‘The Münchhausen in Me’ starts things off in decidedly jangling fashion with 12-string guitars plus autoharp and glockenspiel adding a special touch to the sound. Navigating between truth and semi-truth can be a difficult thing—sometimes fainting might be the only way out. ‘When Goodness Falls’ is an incredibly catchy song about people who are scared to remain true to themselves, and what a wonderful feeling it is to go against their will and completely, intentionally disappoint them. Musically bright, the song is the natural heir to the Smiths classic ‘This Charming Man’.
Third track ‘Crazy’ is the only previously released song on the album, although this is a slightly different mix than the one contained on the debut single. The mix of acoustic and electric Rickenbackers jangle in all the right places and the vocals suit the music perfectly. A song that has been around since the very first days of Northern Portrait, it is a modern pop classic that has been incredibly well received for good reason.
‘The Operation Worked But The Patient Died’ is the sound of Northern Portrait trying to write a British Sea Power song. With a touch of The La’s and Sleeper-esque guitars, the song adds a dose of essential drama to the album. Meanwhile, superb title track ‘Criminal Art Lovers’ is a song about beatniks on picnics, busy tourists, and the comfy life…or perhaps just a not-so-good day at the office. With nice bursts of percussion, the song builds to an extraordinarily melodic ending that will have you reaching straight for the repeat button.
Side two begins with lush guitar track ‘Life Returns To Normal.’ Lyrically the song draws upon a poem about Volvo Estate cars, perhaps providing the line “my estate will take you anywhere” a clever double meaning. In any event, the song is another classic that will have you dancing by the end. This will serve you well as the album continues with ‘Murder Weapon’ keeping things sonically upbeat, even if the song is inspired by an article in British Vogue about women’s sophisticated cruelty towards one other when it comes to fashion and style.
‘What Happens Next?’ is an up-tempo and energetic song about the collision of people with completely different agendas. It is one of the earliest Northern Portrait songs, initially recorded with the two tracks that would go on to serve as lead tracks for the band’s initial EPs. Returning to the same rhythm as ‘When Goodness Falls‘, the song is a favorite of the Northern Portrait live repertoire.
With its slow build-up and rich sound, ‘That’s When My Headaches Begin’ has a certain widescreen feel to it that takes the listener somewhere beyond the other tunes found on the album. Musically inspired by early Suede, the lyrics return to the theme from the Napoleon Sweetheart EP track ‘In An Empty Hotel‘. Ending the record on a positive note, ‘New Favourite Moment’ is a catchy, Rickenbacker dance track with an instrumental chorus, so people won’t have to learn any lyrics and can focus on twisting their bodies instead! Just try to resist…
Building on the amazing promise demonstrated by its two EPs, Northern Portrait have delivered the consummate debut album as ‘Criminal Art Lovers’ is the first certified album of the year contender for 2010.
So, if you made it through here, then you’re only a click away from getting your hands on Criminal Art Lovers. Of course the album is also available on amazon, emusic or itunes as a download.
Northern Portrait – New Favourite Moment (MP3)
Northern Portrait – Criminal Art Lovers (MP3)