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.
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.