A lot of music gets based on a theory or a principle, whether or not the artist wants to admit it. We hear so much music as a society that when someone thoughtfully places that theory to practice, it can easily go unnoticed. Through our friends in the public relations world, we were introduced to the music of London’s Modern Nature, a band ready to make music based on a theory. Lead by Jack Cooper, the band makes music that doesn’t really fall into a genre while representing the ties between the city and the countryside. What emerges is their stellar debut album How To Live, where they encapsulate all of the quietus and chaos of the two worlds while crafting some of the most elemental sounds you’ll hear on an album possibly all year-if not longer.
For starters, to be quiet or at least to remove sound, goes against human nature. As humans we seem to want to strike a guitar for that power chord, smash that cymbal for the crash or plunk on the bass for that “Debaser” riff. So, to hear a modern band embrace the absence of sound is foreign to the ears, yet this album achieves that harmonious feat with ease. The opening track “Bloom” opens like a prelude of what’s to come. The use of stringed instruments sets a tone, that How to Live is not going to sound like the typical indie rock record while preparing your ears for the euphony of subtle tones and nuance. This begins with “Footsteps” where the use of a simple beat and guitar noodling intersect with soft vocals and synths to hone in a sound that’s similar to footsteps in a hurried world. The saxophone comes in and adds hints of chaos without being annoying, thus showing the strengths of the band as composers and performers.
The subtleties within the album are masterful and without contemporary. “Criminals” has this somber tone that doesn’t make you depressed, “Peradam” is upbeat without feeling like a pop song generated by a team of producers and “Devotee” intertwines instrumentation with vocals to construct a sound that feels like the soundtrack to being called into the afterlife. But while the album’s contents feel closer to rare earth than musical notes, the biggest stand out of the ten tracks lies with the song “Nature.” It’s the only song on the release that’s mixed with all of the sounds at the top of your speakers. Much like a child embracing the sunlight, Modern Nature hs the ability to sway between sound and the absence of it better than most modern musicians ever could. With few contemporaries making such embracing and focused music, not since Bedhead or Yo La Tengo has a bad seemed to exist and create with such purpose and originality. How To Live should be a manual for any band in the future to go with your gut and to trust your instincts in making original music rather than following the trends.
How To Live will be released to the world tomorrow and will be available for download or streaming, while physical copies can be purchased directly through Bella Union. Modern Nature is on tour starting September 13 in Leeds, UK at Brudenell Social Club until September 22 in Portsmouth, GB at The Wedgewood Rooms. The band’s entire tour schedule can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by James Sharp.