It was with second album Sketch that US band Ex Norwegian reeled us in with their hook laden mix of power pop and indie rock. Subsequent releases and songs have only dug a little deeper into a keen appetite but with new adventure Wasted Lines, the Florida band has bound ears and passions like they were Houdini whilst ensuring there is no escape from their tempting bonds.
Every encounter from Ex Norwegian comes with a creative twist and pleasing unpredictability even within a distinct and wonderfully recognisable sound, and this time it is through the addition of vocalist Lucia Perez and her sixties pop touch seductive tones. Her voice adds a new warmth and cheeky lure to the intriguing drama of the songs, an additional colour igniting another real treat from the band. The album as a whole strangely shows a bigger gap between its delirious highs and lesser, a word used with tongue firmly in cheek, successes compared to previous triumphs, but emerges as the band’s most complete and riveting, not forgetting exhilarating release yet. Produced by band founder Roger Houdaille alongside Fernando Perdomo (Linda Perhacs), Wasted Lines is simply a radiant melodic rock captivation casting a perpetual spell over senses and imagination.
Formed in 2008 and grabbing their name from the one Monty Python sketch everyone knows, Ex Norwegian made their mark with debut album Standby of 2009 and the following Sketch that same year, though its initial release was followed by a break up in the band before being re-released in 2011 when the band was reformed by Houdaille. This was the trigger to stronger and broader attention with both House Music in 2012 and Crack a year later pushing the band into hungrier spotlights. As suggested though Wasted Lines is the new pinnacle of the band’s artistry and sound and as opening track CheepCheep alone toys with emotions, easy to expect the catalyst to major success.
The first song is swiftly stamping its rhythmic and riff wrapped feet with an almost glam rock swagger before being joined by great heavy basslines and the pop fuelled revelry of Perez’s voice. The song bounces around but with hints of an explosive nature which intermittently erupts with a raw and fuzzy blaze of guitar. Managing to be clean cut pop and dirty rock ‘n’ roll simultaneously, it is an infectious start to the album and a tasty appetiser for the following Be There and its sultry climate. Like a mix of Blood Red Shoes and Metric aligned to a great funk seeded, the track flickers and seduces like a fire. Its touch is hot and magnetic, especially with the alluring bedlamic mix of noises which frequent its body and the great contrasting moments seeing a union of vocals between Perez and Houdaille.
The lively croon of Much Rooms swings it’s tempting next; celestial vocals from Perez a siren-esque courting of the tangy hooks and dark throated basslines which fill the song. Its radiance makes way for the outstanding Unstoppable, a song which from a potent if understated start grows into a virulent addiction thanks to a chorus which flames like a pop version of Spinnerette. In many ways as punk as it is indie pop, the track glows in ears with a guitar solo bringing its own spicy coaxing to excite further a by now very greedy appetite.
The gentler, folk kissed caress of All The Time comes next, its rhythmic energy a sturdy spine through the melodic elegance around it whilst its successor First Time confidently strolls through a harsher but no less graceful landscape of melodic rock and ska glazed scenery. The latter is just a whisper but there in the swing of the increasingly enticing offering.
The smouldering croon and melodic balladry of You Could Be Someone brings strong satisfaction next as once more a sixties flavouring lies on the irresistible vocal tempting of Perez as well as the more incendiary surface of the guitars. Its heated embrace leads to the contagion of the glorious It’s Too Late, the best track upon Wasted Lines with a swing and character which excites like a pact between Late Cambrian and Kirsty MacColl. It’s enthralling feet and voice sparking romp is matched in favouring by Only The Clues, those comparisons and especially that of MacColl, an extra spice to the temptress like allure of another very fine persuasion.
The heavy and thick romance of Unfair to Compare starts the final breath of the album, it’s almost oppressive atmosphere a mystique loaded tantalising engulfing ears and immersing thoughts. It is an exotic and slightly imposing psychedelic adventure of idea and craft which seems to pass on its ethereal qualities to the harmony fuelled closing Love Is. Acoustically shaped and vocally coloured, the track is a beaming sunset to the album and one final enslaving incitement.
With every listen Wasted Lines as well as growing in sound and stature, reveals more underlying qualities and treasure within its depths. It is a blaze of imagination and uplifting sounds which all should contemplate blessing their days and nights with.
Wasted Lines is available now via Limited Fanfare Records as a CD Digipak limited to 200 @ http://limitedfanfare.bigcartel.com/product/ex-norwegian-wasted-lines and digitally and on standard Cd @ http://shop.exnorwegian.com/album/wasted-lines-deluxe-edition
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from