Divisions – Charlie Nieland (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Music and books! Those are the two things that feature highly in my day to day life. I live in a house that is as much a library as a place of residence and from one of its crumbling garrets, I spend my time putting virtual pen to digital paper on behalf of new, interesting and grassroots music. And given Charlie Nieland‘s similar interests, I feel if ever we met, we would end up becoming firm friends…or at least talk up a sonic and literary storm in the meantime.

Through projects such as the Bushwick Book Club and the musical duo, Lusterlit, he has always managed to combine the two creative pathways effortlessly, something which he continues to do with this, his second solo album. Each song is inspired by a book but there are no obvious pointers in the lyrics so you have to just take the songs for what they are, interpret them in your own way, which is always for the best anyway.

Musically, the album is a gorgeous blend of post-punk sounds, dreamlike and shifting prog-scapes, indie cool and lyrical astuteness. And if in the title track, which acted as a calling card for the album, we encountered a blend of tribal beat and beguiling sonics, with the opening salvo, Always on Fire, we are greeted by a shimmering, chiming alternative take on pop, though I suspect one too smart and too adventurous for all but the most discerning pop-pickers.

Land of Accidents funks and broods in equal measure, setting up a sort of dark groove whilst spinning a tale of disenfranchisement and discrimination and Skin is a gorgeous ode to beauty built from the ebbs and flows of hazy synths, sweeping string grandeur and tumbling beats.

Charlie Nieland not only writes lyrically poignant music (inspired by equally poignant books) he constructs songs that take you to unexpected musical places. Not so much that they put you outside your comfort zones but shift things just enough that they warp indie templates, offer heightened takes on pop and turn rock music into something deft, and even delicate.

All that but also, with a little bit of exploration, Divisions offers you a well-chosen and sonically curated reading list. How great is that?

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