A Different Kind of Listening CD
Though half of its songs have vocal parts, this is mostly an instrumental album about suburban aimlessness and the genuine pains of sitting around, looking at watches, with "glasses to the wind". The guitar interplay is like a heavyweight boxing match; guitarists Dave Altman and Reuben Bettsak size each other up, then swing at air. Their failure to connect on an incessant melody documents the times your mother (or) the teacher made you sit in a corner. It's about those reluctant, embarrassed walks, and about the more forced occasions when you felt bad intentionally impressing a Smiths-loving girl.
The Nationale Blue definitely take self-pity ("We've got the hearts / You've got the knives") and obscure angst ("A false alarm! A false alarm!") in deeper pools than most, but a good-humored perspective surrounds their cockamamie outbursts. Glimmers of spy music make unexpected visits in "Loop Transversion" and "Made Up Meanings", and, well, isn't it always the clown who can turn raised glasses into end-of-world scenarios?
The group's insistence on sounding troubled is endearing and childlike, though they play their instruments like seasoned pros. Whatever you think about emo, the genre has birthed plenty of great drummers, and Adam Kriney is among the best. He doesn't disappear within the music, and basically pelts you with his sticks. Bettsak is a strong guitarist, too, able to make every abrupt, herky-jerky moment sound less like melodic shortcomings, and more like true blue analysis of knives, hearts and our youthful heads in the dark.