The Golden West – NRVS LVRS (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

image19-620x264Wandering between shimmering, ambient electronica and buoyant underground pop anthems, the consonant loving NRVS LVRS have an uncanny knack for combining accessible and beautiful music with some deep searching and often dark subject matter. I find it odd that in a world filled with austere politics, a widening “us and them society”, corporate greed and an ever growing disenfranchised and lost underclass, we are not making more music exploring social problems and making political statements. After all it was just such a melting pot that gave us punk and a scattergun salvo of intelligent underground genres that followed.

 

NRVS LVRS obviously feel the same and through these seven songs they explore the ever-changing nature of their home city of San Francisco, changes such as its disappearing culture, housing problems and the backlash of an ever-accelerating technology boom. But such intense subjects do not make for a dry and dusty album, far from it. Although musically there is often a feeling of disconnection and solitude as distant keyboard washes and strummed guitars create an atmosphere rather than a tune, such as on opener City Lights, they also know how to make great pop, Black Diamonds and Troubleshooter’s bounce and beat being proof enough. If you are going to sell political conversation to the man in the street, why not make it a dance driven manifesto.

 

But it is in the slower, more ambient numbers that the band appeal to me most, this is where the emotion and desolation of the subject dovetails perfectly with the music and the title track is the pinnacle of this. Erie keyboards build into an urban buzz, a cacophony of humming telephone wires, industrial drone and broken neon lights and the isolation of modern city life is tangible.

 

It is about time music re-discovered its true potential; the soapbox from which to discuss the world, the platform to inform, express and debate. Whilst the mainstream pop world is happy to pose and posture in its cocoon of hyper-reality, NRVS LVRS invite you to join a whole different party.

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