Take the attitude of Dr. Dog, the horn line spice of Cake, and the essentials for a modern folk group and you get Neighborhood of Make Believe. Okay, that’s a very general statement but there’s a lot of experimentation going on in NOMB’s debut album so it’s hard to say what their sound is exactly – flowing, warm and washy are definitely some constants. That being said, listeners will have to cull through the 12 track collection to find something they like, but it’s still worth giving a listen to from beginning to end. They’ve dropped their songs strategically throughout the album so it’s a bit of a roller coaster which will hold the listener’s interest. Maybe not one with corkscrews and loops, rather a traditional wooden one with some exciting drops and turns.
Songs like “Track Name’s,” “Fairness” and “Thin Soup” are easy going, slow moving and have a great sense of peacefulness. The immediate emotion isn’t sadness – it’s only until listeners dive into the lyrics of the track do they then understand the direction and purpose of the song. I suppose that is true to most songs in this genre but they’ve found a well working formula and they stick to it, creating an engaging album when combined with the following contrary tracks.
We find more energetic and multilayered tracks like “When Willem’s Wife Was Wet” that add some flavor to the album. “Willem’s Wife” has the most depth and direction in the collection and it’s something this group should definitely try to reproduce in coming works. Instrumentation is crisper and clearer, movements are well defined – it’s much needed separation as well as mood booster from the other, lower energy tracks.
“Faces” is worth dissecting as well. Some might say it’s lacking in direction but its just omnidirectional. It’s ominous, then jovial, hopeful and open – it’s just interesting. It’s not necessarily catchy but is definitely fun to listen to. The chord progressions are bizarre and just blend into each other enough to create a unique atmosphere.
Things get more interesting as we’re introduced to a western, backwoods feel in “Traveling Standing Still.” Complex guitar work, odd time signatures and a super cathy bridge/ chorus create another fantastic space with loads of potential and direction, although the song drops off without any sort of climax. Still one of the coolest works on the album.
The remainder of the tracks reflect their style at the beginning of the album which is a bit of a let down to be honest. The prior three tracks were highly engaging, unique and just plain fun to listen to. It would be music to our ears if we could hear these guys come back with another album following the abstract sounds found in “Standing Still”, “Faces” and “Willems Wife”. Die hard indie/ folk lovers will enjoy this collection for sure. Give it a once over and you’ll find a several things to enjoy.
Key Tracks: When Willem’s Wife Was Wet, Faces, Traveling Standing Still