There’s something very studied about Brooklyn band Nation Of Language. Their quiffs are mussed just so, their trousers freshly pressed, and their sound crisp. Obvious aficionados of the early 80s, their synth pop is increasingly leaning towards OMD and pre-naughty, druggy Depeche Mode, the bookish English bands who emerged, melodic and wide-eyed, as the last trails of vomit and snot dried up after the punk scene.
Indeed, Ian Devaney’s vocals are so knowingly like Andy McCluskey, the synths so pristine and programmed, that the band hardly seem to break a sweat. It should be really annoying.
And yet, it works. Okay, there’s nothing new here. The Grey Commute is as intense as a John Hughes teen dance montage, and the bright and breezy This Fractured Mind may bring about a Proustian rush of Findus Crispy Pancakes and crinkle cut chips in front of The A Team, but they have the hooks and songwriting chops. There’s a love of the form that eludes other 80s-inflected bands.
Nation Of Language belong to the retro pop loving outsiders that includes Bat For Lashes, M83 and Chromatics, bands that are out of time and have no intention in joining the twenty first century any time soon. And why should they, when tracks such as the chiming opener In Manhattan so emulate the glassy melancholy of Man Machine-era Kraftwerk? It’s churlish to resist.