Saturday, 8 May 2010

Smiths Light? - Northern Portrait

There was a time when the music press were desperate for the next smiths and there seemed to be an endless parade of bands with jangly guitars and songs about death that were hailed as the next wave. A lot of really good bands seemed to never fully emerge from this early tag and struggled under the weight of expectation, Gene especially springs to mind. although they continued to make excellent lps long after the NME had lost interest.

Morrissey continues to churn out patchy lps, Johnny Marr continues to be guitar for hire, madchester, britpop have come and gone and the Smiths are confined to pop history despite the endless compilations that seem to appear every xmas.

Now a Danish band have come along and started all those Smiths comparisons again. Northern Portrait have already released 2 eps and now their debut lp "Criminal Art Lovers" has been released. The first track "The Munchhausen in Me" starts with a guitar and drums and a lovelorn , bored, despairing vocal that does have you thinking the unthinkable has happened and the famous four have reformed. The sound is much more manchester than copenhagen

As the lp progresses the style persists , even the song titles could be a smiths b side "The Operation Worked but the Patient Died". Thankfully as the lp builds the band's own personality begins to shine through. However, the songs do tend to merge into a similar sound (as good a sound as that is) and for me there is not enough of the light and shade that made Johnny Marr such a gifted guitarist. This is summed up by the fact that I really like the lp and have been playing it a lot but struggle to think of a really stand out track.

So if you like a bit of literate indie guitar pop (is such a thing exists) then this is worth giving a go.

You buy the lp here and you can visit their myspace site here to listen to some tracks
I know it is the height of laziness to continually compare to other bands but go to their myspace site and I'm sure you'll see what I mean

I also want to point out in this age of takedown notices that this is an example how internet blogging should work. I'd never heard of them until I visited the excellent Sweet Unrest blog , heard the track posted and then promptly bought the cd.


  1. You're right ,you can't listen to them without thinking of the Smiths.I really like the album and it's my album of the year ,so far.
    Tel Aviv
    Currently listening to Katkhuda 'a long way from somewhere'.A fantastic album that I finally found on e-bay!

  2. Hi phil

    is the katkhunda thing the guy who used to be lead singer of Obi? If so i think I've got this cd and it is good

  3. Yes he was with Obi.He's also released a download only album using the name The Mostar Diving Club that's also rather excellent!

  4. when I hear that ' smiths ' sound , I think what a great band the smiths were . How I wish Morrissey would have kept that lighter sound , .

    I think , i'll listen to Northern Portrait on spotify , but i do like what i've heard on myspace .

  5. Fast becoming the first blog I click onto each evening. Always been a fan of "literate indie guitar pop" and Northern Portrait are a great example. Not heard them before but very reminiscent of Gene which is no bad thing. At this moment the CD is on its way........

  6. Thanks for the kind mention and I totally agree with your assessment of the album and the lack of a standout track and for that reason I think I slightly prefer the two EPs as much as I like this as well.

    I've also spent a fair amount of money after reading your blog, and it's about to be a bit more as soon as the new Stornoway album comes out here :). Thanks for everything.

  7. Thanks fo rthe comments realy appreciate it
    Greer - I am far too excited about the Stornoway lp
    Scott I agree re Gene although i think Gene had a lot more variety
    Jay - the lp is worth a go i think i was a bit disappointed in that i'd read a few reviews and was probably expecting something that the lp was never going to be able to live up to

  8. Listening to them so more , I think morrissey should hire them as song writers , they are at times more 'smiths' than the smiths !

  9. I think they would do a better job than his current co writers


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