Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sophisticated Guitar Pop

I first heard Denmark’s Northern Portrait last autumn at a club in Gothenburg with two (warning: in-joke alert) Great Pop Mates (see comments to previous post): it was one of those too-rare moments when everyone recognised immediately a great new sound.

Northern Portrait’s debut ep, The Fallen Aristocracy, is a solid start creating what they call “sophisticated guitar pop” (think The Lodger, The Siddeleys, The Housemartins), although there are moments when it sounds a little too heavily influenced by The Smiths. Crazy – which their label Matinee are serving up as an mp3 – leans a little too much towards Smiths tribute band The Sundays’ Here’s Where The Story Ends for comfort.

The title track, though, is not just Northern Portrait’s strongest effort, but an instant classic. Taking its cue from Pulp’s retro pop grandeur, The Fallen Aristocracy is eloquent and nervy and melodramatic, combining louche degradation with the slyly insistent pop of early 80s Factory.

If they can build on this classic, then their debut album will be an essential purchase.

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