In a little more than a year, the diasporic female European indie rock trio The Narentines have managed to put out an independently released first record entitled Soundphernalia that sounds coherent. Perhaps this is due to the stripped down levels of instrumentation, with only the three usual suspects of guitar, bass and drums being present. There are a minimum amount of effects and most of them are in the vein of early Sonic Youth, (a band which The Narentines are often compared to) but with the absence of Sonic Youth’s often exuberant, gear grinding feedback.
The Narentines’ psych laced with pop-rock debut Soundphernalia starts off with the hard hitting “Wheel of Fortune” and is a likely culprit for why they get comparisons to Sonic Youth. The guitars and bass each pace themselves as though they’re revving up, and over the course of the song become louder and grittier as Serbian front woman Jelena’s monotone drone keeps the song from becoming too punk-y. The slow pounder “Fists & Pride” with its intricate instrumentation and ethereal vocals is a slow groove jam, the first of more to come. “When Water Leaves Stains” contains the same slow droning guitars and adds backing vocals from drummer Jenny.
“Witch Wife” with its snarly blues guitars and thumping bass lines momentarily breaks the psychic spell previously cast though it seems over before it has had a chance to accomplish anything. “Run For Your Life” is a good attempt that The Narentines make at playing the pop punk card. The tune is solid and catchy and leaves you wanting more.
The Narentines hold out the best for last, or near last, with “That Secret Space,” which combines each of the band’s dual soundscapes and blends them into one truly fantastic piece of psych pop as does the final track “Rewind the Time.”
With Soundphernalia The Narentines hold their own amongst their psych-rock peers on several tracks. Are there hurdles to get over and kinks to work out? Definitely, and it seems as though The Narentines run into the usual bit of trouble which often befalls bands early in their career, which is being hard enough on yourself to admit when one of your songs is just not living up to its worth. It’s not an easy thing to do, but in the end, it is what makes good bands great.
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