This is quite odd. Novada has spent the past six years developing an epic sound that assaults the senses through a lavish and infectious combination of early U2, such '80s Brit electronica as Depeche Mode and New Order, classic indie rockers like Echo & the Bunnymen and the Psychedelic Furs, with the contemporary edge of the Bravery and, more prominently, the Arcade Fire mixed in. They've been reviewed in Spin and Alternative Press, and yet they've largely managed to stay off the radar locally. Well, let's fix that here.
Transmission is Novada's second album, and it's an absolute fuckin' gem. The songs are all beautifully crafted. Frontman Hayze has one of those voices that sound simultaneously dirty and depressed at the same time, and the production is incredible — lush without sounding overpolished. For an indie release, Transmission somehow sounds like it's had a hell of a lot of money thrown at it, which is testament to the skills of the band and those behind the mixing desk.
Opener "Spark the Fire" does exactly that, building to a chorus that simply explodes with a cacophony of melody and layered backing vocals. And the album doesn't let up from there. "Ghost in My Head" recalls Infected-era The The with its melancholy, almost melodramatic, low-key prettiness. And "Burn This City" is the best song on the album, affectionately portraying "Detroit City's burnt-out husk" through some poetic lyrics and manic guitar work.
By the time the whole thing draws to a close, the temptation to push play again is irresistible.
Novada has swept in toward the end of the year and produced one of 2009's best local albums. It's a phenomenal piece of work.
Brett Callwood writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.