Band Name: Nemo
Album Name: Signs of Life
Best Element: Great songwriting and melodies
Label Name: Binge Records (www.bingerecords.com)
Nemo lives in that space between indie-pop and indie-rock. They have all the melodies, instrumentation, and charm of an indie-pop band, but their approach is less shiny, their overall atmosphere much more serious, and their themes much more weighty than those of an indie-pop band. Their debut album Signs of Life is a quick-paced, highly engaging indie rock experience.
While Nemo has cultivated a very cohesive sound for their album, their songs are strong enough that even out of the context of the album, these songs stand up on their own. “Metropolitan,” for example, has their signature sound down- while the bass and drums are lively, the guitar is pensive and melodic, setting up a bridge between the fast bass/drums interaction and the mournful, soul-searching vocals. When all the parts work together it is a haunting sound- as if the loneliness of urban life is contrasting against the busyness of it.
This sound permeates their entire album, from the achingly beautiful title track to the soupy, transcendent “Fiction of Reality” to the herky-jerky “Lunar Ship to the Mars” to the eerie “Eternity of This.” The two main players here switch off instruments pretty often, but this cohesive sound never suffers a bit from it- these two songwriters are very in tune with each others’ songwriting tastes and quirks.
While this album is seventeen songs long, it doesn’t feel like it at all. Each of these songs is concise- stripped of any excess material that they might have had. This results in an album that never gets boring- before anything has a chance to get repetitive, it’s done and we’re on our way to the next great track. The downside is that songs that could have been longer leave way too soon- like the excellent closer “Harbor” or the beautiful intro to “Fiction of Reality.”
As with any album, there are a couple of tracks that just don’t succeed (“Chariot”, “Killer Bees”) either due to bad transitions or odd songwriting, but on the whole, this is an extremely well-written, highly enjoyable piece of indie-pop songwriting. When you leave an album humming a tune and in a different mood than when you came, you know that you’ve just heard something good- and that’s how I know Signs of Life is a pretty safe bet for anyone looking for great mellow indie music.