erasing clouds

Northern Portrait, Napoleon Sweetheart EP

review by dave heaton

The Copenhagan-based band Northern Portrait’s second EP impresses me even more than the first, The Fallen Aristocracy. The band is still clearly indebted to the Smiths and other similar witty-melancholy UK groups from the ‘80s and ‘90s – not that it’s a bad template to follow. But these four luxurious sad songs hold together in such a cohesive way as to possess their own space and mood.

Images of late-night tears in hotel rooms abound, not only because of the song titled “In an Empty Hotel”. The opening track “I Give You Two Seconds to Entertain Me” blazes out an agenda against empty beauty/wealth, against artists who aren’t trying to connect with us on a sincere emotional level. “I want something that’s real and perfectly genuine / a place where I can feel that I belong,” ?? sings, at the same time that the band does their best to create suc a place.

If that song is the manifesto, the anthem, the others are scene-setters, tales that carry their own sad grace and romantic turmoil. The final song, “Our Lambrusco Days”, is especially exquisite, striding by with talk of days gone by, of changes and more carefree, gone-by times.


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