Far from mindless synthpop, Nûrnbear’s debut “Isolation” does well by the genre, with a message that’s especially relevant in today’s cultural climate.
RIYL: Frenship, Blondage, ARIZONA, The Griswolds
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Only a band like Nûrnbear could take a song about seclusion and isolation and turn it into a fiery pop track. The Danish alt-pop group’s latest track, simply titled “Isolation,” (released November 23, 2017, via We Are Suburban) is catchy, almost deceptively so.
Listen: “Isolation” – Nûrnbear
And perhaps it has to be. With its politically-charged lyrics and message, “Isolation”’s classic synthpop sound is sure to get listeners hooked…before delivering its lyrical one-two punch. Which the band is totally fine with. Of the song, lead and vocalist Emil Wahlberg says: “We were trying to create a song that really resonates with people. Both in terms of making a catchy melody but also by creating lyrics which people can reflect on. If Isolation makes our listeners dance all day long we are happy. At the same time if the track provides food for thought before they tuck into bed at night – mission accomplished.”
Formerly associated with known Danish acts such as The Chairman and The Awesome Welles, Wahlberg formed Nûrnbear in 2016 along with Christian Tranberg (beats), Mads Siggaard (synthesizer) and Rune Christensen (bass). And they’ve been working on penning playfully-edgy tunes ever since, of which “Isolation” is the perfect example.
“Isolation” begins with slamming synth riffs before introducing Wahlberg’s vocals, almost completely alone. Even at the song’s start, its lyrics and instrumentals work together to play up the theme of isolation and being alone as Wahlberg sings “Hang out…” with little backing synth. Though the focus is on Wahlberg’s lyrics, there’s an intentionality to having his voice seem alone, reinforcing the song’s main message before we even reach the chorus. Even as the beat comes back in, there’s a sense that Wahlberg is alone in his observations: until the soaring chorus.
Despite the depressingly-familiar adages of “whatever you do today/won’t change a thing” and “tap out and claim defeat,” Wahlberg shifts his point of view abruptly before the chorus, imploring listeners not to get comfortable with becoming insular. It’s easy to sit around with “cozy world views” and take no action for fear that it won’t matter, but Wahlberg challenges his listeners to do better as he launches into the chorus, backed by a flurry of synth:
It’s a kick in the groin,
Two sides of the same coin.
A generation of good kids doing bad things,
Running up that hill,
Seems the obvious way
Instead of moving on to another verse, Wahlberg repeats the first two, putting the emphasis on challenging our world views. To retreat into ourselves, whether individually or as a society or country, and to reject the change and benefits of togetherness would be a mistake at a time like this. Whether at a personal or societal/national level, Nûrnbear’s lyrics take on a number of meanings, and yet all boil down to the same point: we cannot shut ourselves away and hope that things will all turn out alright.
That message is furthered in the song’s music video. Fittingly, Wahlberg remains alone throughout the entire video, walking through fields and isolating himself fully in a VR headset. That is, until the very end, when he rips off his headset and the camera cuts to another frame, of Wahlberg and the Nûrnbear guys on top of a hill, overlooking a landscape that’s empty apart from them. The camera then cuts back to Wahlberg alone in the darkness, shadowed by a single reddish light.
Watch: “Isolation” – Nûrnbear
Nûrnbear have created something special here: an especially palatable song with a message of substance. Far from mindless synthpop with meaningless lyrics, “Isolation” does well by the genre, crafting a song that’s both an earworm and especially relevant in today’s cultural climate
:: stream/purchase “Isolation” here ::
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photo © 2017