Published September 27, 2013
A short but sweet LP of lo-fi earworms
Prolific synth-pop duo Nolo have been quietly amassing a catalogue of self-recorded singles, EPs and albums since their formation in 2009. Their artist page on Gogoyoko shows no less than 21 releases, many of which are demos. Confronted with such a variety of stuff, it’s hard to know where to start; but you could do worse than to choose ‘Human,’ their third LP. Released quietly on the band’s Bandcamp earlier this year, these eight tracks clock in at a lean 25 minutes, including a remixed version of “Passion.”
For anyone who’s seen Nolo’s current excellent live show, many of the songs will be familiar—the track list is something of a ‘greatest hits,’ packed with memorable tunes and no filler whatsoever. Opening with the Gary Numan-reminiscent “Burning Sand,” ‘Human’ marks an ‘80s-inflected but decidedly contemporary alt-pop sound, the soft keyboard washes propelled by unhurried drum-machine rhythms and topped with skittering lead guitar. They inhabit an interesting space somewhere between the pure ‘80s vocoder-and-effects schtick of retro bands like Chromeo, and the hazy, reverb-heavy acid-pop of Ariel Pink collaborator John Maus. But Nolo’s songs have a mellow, languid, hook-laden quality all of its own.
There’s no shortage of singles here: “Romeo” is an earworm that’ll have you whistling along by the end of the first chorus. “Stuck On a Mind” is an effervescent standout, and “Steel” is an arch, atmospheric ballad. “Delicious” comes across like a forgotten lo-fi gem from a lost John Hughes movie soundtrack.
There’s little doubt that Nolo will continue to pump out new material, and with songs as catchy as these, there’ll be few complaints.