One of the many problems that we suffer these days, albeit a very minor one, is that of comparison. Everything is compared these days, from car insurance to that film you saw last weekend. You know the one, it’s like Oliver Stone’s Wall Street but involves a wolf. Music especially suffers from this malarkey of comparing, and in the case of this review, it is debatable that Brooklyn’s NØMADS sound like a mix of Death From Above 1979 meets Queens of the Stone Age. However, NØMADS are their own band and have their own sound, perhaps not quite yet in sync, but a sound that warrants them a comparison-free review nonetheless.
Their debut, Free My Animal, is a grunge-traced progression of Nathan Lithgow’s bass, backed up by Garth Macaleavey’s competent drums. Here is a two-piece not solely looking to maximize their noise output. Instead, the low number of instruments allows them to define their sounds with a clear intent – the band’s lucidity is a breath of fresh air in a time suffocated by heavily layered music.
Despite being a breath of fresh air, they kick off the record with a gale-force blow of crashing drums and stimulating bass with ‘In the Mend’. Followed by the dark trudge of ‘Feed My Animal’ and the oddly melancholy ‘The Cosmos’, the band continue to gradually ramp up the tempo until we reach ‘Blood in the Water’. The album’s mid point is a ferocious, two-minute frenzy of fuzzy bass and relaxed vocals. It is at this point though that the band’s production comes in to question. The drought of sound from the drums on this track demonstrates why the band fall just short of a great debut. There are moments where, if production had capitalized on the power of Macaleavey’s drumming more consistently, the album could have presented a band starting their career in-sync and on track. Optimistically, this may be a negative, but it is one that allows NØMADS to improve themselves for the next record.
‘Disguises’ follows with its slow, ominous trance. A misleading opening as the song soon lurches into a crash of cymbals and the earlier relaxed vocals of Lithgow are now replaced with raw emotion. The album ends on similar territory as ‘Down In Out’ and ‘Lemming/King’ pick up where the first half of the album left off, a cacophony of crashing drums and heavy bass.
Although the album manages to sometimes miss Macaleavey’s hard-hitting capability, it is reassuring to remember that this is probably something that NØMADS don’t suffer from live. An encouraging debut, NØMADS have the potential here to come back with an even stronger follow-up.