Dear Nora - human futures Music Album Reviews

Dear Nora - human futures Music Album Reviews
On the follow-up to 2018’s Skulls Example, the Portland group delivers pointed late-capitalist critiques, using coarser melodies and more vivid lyrics to express gnawing existential anxiety.

When Portland, Oregon’s Dear Nora reissued their second album, 2004’s Mountain Rock, in 2017, they went from being an obscure regional band to indie-folk cult heroes. The group’s frontperson, Katy Davidson, sang about searching for place and meaning in a crumbling world; the hollow guitars and wistful vocals sounded as if they were recorded deep in a cave. The reissue’s success galvanized Davidson to revive the group after an almost decade-long hiatus. In 2018 they released Skulls Example, a haunting follow-up to Mountain Rock. Like its predecessor, Skulls Example was minimal and moving, Davidson’s lyrics juxtaposing snapshots of the natural world—full moons, heat waves, birds sailing through the sky—with a looming sense of techno-deterministic dread. They documented without comment, noticing how each car they passed on a road trip brandished a GPS display, or how even small-town bars now boasted walls of flat-screen TVs. On Dear Nora’s latest album, human futures, Davidson delivers their late-capitalist critiques more pointedly, using coarser melodies and more vivid lyrics to express gnawing existential anxiety.

In an essay written in advance of human futures, Davidson called the new album the “culmination” of Dear Nora’s work so far. Thematically, they continue to contrast sublime naturalism with the mundane horrors of modern life: a purple beetle buzzing beside a bolo-tie-wearing content-mongerer; a narrator walking through mountainous fog while shaking off a dream of Lady Gaga; a speaker unable to admire the moon’s reflection on the water because they’re contemplating the death of democracy. But human futures is more than a series of off-kilter still lifes—it’s a record about gratitude, about small pleasures, about mourning humanity’s expanding disassociation from, and active destruction of, the Earth. Davidson swerves between awe and terror, attempting to soak in what’s left of the natural world before it’s gone.

So who’s to blame for this mess? Davidson has some ideas, taking aim at several contemptible archetypes. On “scrolls of doom,” they inhabit a persona who “makes billions in seconds flat” and wears a big honking cowboy hat, the sort of person who believes their money can be used to colonize other planets. There’s no reprieve from this claustrophobic ego; the only time the narrator connects with the outside world is when they give an almost erotic description of plastic stretching infinitely into the horizon. Similarly, on “airbnb cowboy”—which scans as a sort of spiritual cousin to Kim Gordon’s electrifying noise-rock anthem “Air BnB”—Davidson inhabits the voice of a post-truth, Joe Rogan-listening real-estate enthusiast who’s “got nothing to say… so content in every way.” Satiric and shrewd, these songs constitute the most overt political statements in Dear Nora’s oeuvre.

Even when Davidson attends to autobiography, human futures’ melodies and textures remain stolid and occasionally harsh, with a curtness rarely heard in their earlier recordings. The writing on “flowers fading” is understated yet memorable, but the grating synth lead and plain vocal cadence scrub away some of the emotional intrigue that undergirds Davidson’s prose. “sinaloan restaurant” similarly struggles to attach compelling melodies to otherwise poignant lines like, “My dad died many times years ago/Now on the table, staring at the light/I move from grief to joy.” It’s clear that Davidson wanted to experiment with different styles and sounds on human futures, to make a project unbound from any prior constraints or expectations. While it’s gratifying to listen to Dear Nora enter more adventurous territory, the band never fully finds their sonic footing here, too often putting concept before melody.

human futures blooms brightest when the band offers a modern take on its vintage sound. On the title track, Davidson soars over smog-laden cities and overstuffed landfills, placid as they recount the demise of humanity. “When the memories get blurry/We trade human futures in our portfolios,” they sing. Even the memory of shimmering rivers, colorful autumns, and California rain is not enough to soothe them—how could it, when these gifts will soon vanish from our lives altogether? It’s a helpless, agonizing fact that feels too big to think about—so don’t think, Davidson seems to be saying, just walk with me and treasure what remains.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Dear Nora - human futures Music Album Reviews Dear Nora - human futures Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 11, 2022 Rating: 5


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