Northern Portrait - Criminal Art Lovers (2010)

The Smiths is back! Haha, just joking :) For those not familiar with the band, they released two exceptional EPs last year, ‘The Fallen Aristocracy’ and ‘Napolean Sweetheart’ giving rise to a degree of critical acclaim and then a few select gigs both in the UK and US. This, the debut album, has taken some time to put together and includes but one track from those EPs, the splendid ‘Crazy’. This is a little surprising and, particularly given the relative shortness of the album, one would have liked to have seen second outings for more of the other previous material, like ‘I’ll Give You Two Seconds To Entertain Me’ or ‘A Quiet Night In Copenhagen’. But putting that to one side, we do have an album that brightly illuminates an indie world that was rather too dimly lit during 2009 and so this, being one of the New Year’s earliest releases, may well set us off on a serious recovery trail. Lyrically, it lacks the cynicism and insight of Morrissey but there is a tongue-in-cheek charm and poignant wit to it, like “days of writing on the walls, never-ending, scratching letters all the time, never sending” from ‘New Favourite Moment’. One of the stand out tracks here was originally written for the EPs, ‘The Operation Worked But The Patient Died’ and is given a neat re-work, with a piercing beat and Stefan Larsen’s quivering vocals pleading for compassion. Then there’s the lushness of ‘That’s When My Headaches Begin’ where the pace is dropped to accommodate the morosity: “armed with my weapons of self destruction”. It’s hard not to pick out ‘Crazy’ though as the class jewel on display here, with it’s rich musical depth and beautiful melody; it’s the track that first gained the band attention and rightly so. Larsen writes compelling music and professes to have not even heard of The Smiths when he started out. He is though, in so many senses, that same frail understated man who is content within the expression of his own existence. Should he, similarly, develop the ability to place a wry slant on life’s grander scale inequalities, then there’s no telling where he might take his band …if the world will listen. For now at least this could indeed be your new favourite moment and if the queen really is dead, then Northern Portrait are perfect regal successors!

Northern Portrait
Criminal Art Lovers
Album art: 
Release date: 

1. The Münchhausen in Me
2. When Goodness Falls
3. Crazy
4. The Operation Worked but the Patient Died
5. Criminal Art Lovers
6. Life Returns to Normal
7. Murder Weapon
8. What Happens Next?
9. That's When My Headaches Begin
10. New Favourite Moment

Music label: 
Matinée Recordings
Denmark, Copenhagen
Average: 4.5 (11 votes)
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