New Music: Northern Portrait – Pretty Decent Swimmers EP

It started with The Smiths. When I first heard them, I began to doubt whether I would ever love a band any more than that. After that, I started to buy these bands who had records that came out in plastic sleeves, and made flexi-disc and things, and were on labels like Sarah, and Subway Organisation and things. I began to wear cardigans, and these sort of black zip-up pointy boots. It was then I knew I’d fallen in love with Indie-Pop.

Times passed, and I went through buying Joe Bloggs jeans and onward into proper adulthood. But I retained a love of those singles and Indie-Pop, until in a not very interesting turn of fate, I joined one of my boyhood idol Sarah bands, and began to see that Indie-Pop had survived and was indeed flourishing, and that it had just moved a bit, into northern Europe, where we trapsed over to do these wonderful little festivals, where people knew not only that we existed, but knew the lyrics to the songs even.

Northern Portrait are a case in point. They hail from Denmark and were first heard from with two EP’s in 2008, and an album ‘Criminal Art Lovers’ followed a couple of years later. Since then there has been an extended break with the band performing across Europe and America at various dates and festivals (The UK’s Indietracks included)

Now the band return with a new EP, available as download from your usual suppliers or on lovely 10inch Vinyl from Matinee Recordings, purveyors of fine Indie. Its entitled Bon Voyage and features four of the finest post-smiths slice of new Indie-Pop you’re likely to hear in a good while

The EP opens with ‘Happy Nice Day’, and straight away this sort of warm c86/Gene style grabs you by your dancing pants, and shakes them around a bit, showering you with melodic basslines and chiming guitars, in a tale of, well, travel

Next up comes ‘Greeting for Paris’ which floats so close to the Mersey, I almost mistook it for a The La’s album track, and ends with the sort of singalong that had me reaching for the Salford Lads Club telephone number. A little gem of a tune.

Bon Voyage continues on the journey of hazy reminiscence, steering close to sounding like Gene, with the Rickenbacker sounding guitars playing their merry way into your heart in the background almost act as a homage to Morrissey’s partner in crime as the tune shimmers to a close

The EP ends with ‘I feel Even Better’ and it sucks you into this melodious world that Northern Portrait and leave’s you with one of those wistful smiles I’m oh so fond of. The song explores the usual getting away theme of such tunes (it mentions cycling…) and though it may be formulaic, you won’t find many EP’s that are as immediate and likeable as this.

Northern picture library may have made an EP that wears the heart of its influences on its cardigan sleeve, but its their sound, their ears for melody, and their time that make it what it is. Beautiful. I just need to find me zip up boots and cardigan, and I’ll be pushing my way to the front.

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