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Northern American - Modern Phenomena (Review)

Northern American, Modern Phenomena

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

LA quartet Northern American have delivered a really cracking debut LP in Modern Phenomena – and one that should be enjoyed just as easily by listeners in the UK as it will by those in America.

Drawing favourable comparisons with acts like The Shins, The National and Local Natives, this finds the outfit delivering sun-drenched indie-tinged pop-inflicted slices of brilliance guaranteed to brighten up your day.

The PR for the LP states that Northern American have created “a shimmering sound that glows like the lights of Los Angeles, looking down upon the city from the San Bernardino Mountains”. It’s pretty darn accurate.

And the joy begins from the start with the insistent hooks of Feel Like Whatever creating an indie sound that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the ’90s heyday of bands like Space Monkeys, The Charlatans or even Happy Monday (with better vocals). It’s a daydream of a record with a great chorus, some cracking guitar work and a nice bongo-like back-beat.

It’s followed by the equally bright So Natural, which combines a cracking bass-line groove with a soaring chorus and yet more solid guitar work. This one almost boasts a Stone Roses vibe at times.

Title track Modern Phenomena drops some of the LP’s best guitar hooks over another great slice of bass and some more deliciously hazy/laidback vocals, while Somewhere Out There shimmers along in supremely confident fashion, unfurling a neon-lit tale of life in LA that has an undercurrent of danger surrounding it.

Elsewhere, Strange Behaviour has another insistent central hook and a really great chorus (“I need you to ignore me, I need you to adore me, maybe I’m just crazy”), while final track Elysian slows down the pace a little and delivers another charming daydream of a track to round the album off in some style.

Trust us, Northern American could just have delivered one of the soundtracks to your summer!

Download picks: Feel Like Whatever, So Natural, Modern Phenomena, Strange Behaviour, Elysian

Track listing:

  1. Feel Like Whatever
  2. So Natural
  3. Modern Phenomena
  4. Somewhere out There
  5. Blue
  6. Days Between
  7. You Remind Me
  8. Strange Behaviour
  9. Nothing Personal
  10. Elysian