Who says a band needs a guitar to be electrifying? Sure, everyone likes a great guitar solo, and shoegaze wouldn’t exist without the steely instrument. But for any doubters of the bass-drum-voice combination, Nelson Can‘s new EP, the unpretentiously named EP3, will change your thoughts on the approach.
After performing together for nearly six years, Selina Gin (vocals), Maria Juntunen (drums), and Signe SigneSigne (bass) are starting to see their careers take off. They’ve become a must-see band in Copenhagen with their intense live shows, but more importantly their music is undeniably fresh in this age of pop and electronica. Their approach is relatively minimalist yet powerful. Post-punk and garage-rock influences resonate across the record, but the trio also know how to transform a pop hook into a thunderous goth-rock anthem. In other words, Nelson Can are no ordinary band, and you’ll love them for it.
EP3 commences with the stark anthem “Break Down Your Walls”. The song’s haunting and raw arcs are titillating, barely resembling U2’s underrated masterpiece “Exit”. Signe’s crippling bass line and Maria’s throbbing percussion probe like torches breaking through a moonless night’s silence. The two set the pace for the song and its menacing tone. Selina’s vocals, meanwhile, are hushed and smoky, yet an urgency resonates in each word she utters. It is the voice of a desperate woman who is not willing to let a friend give into the darkness that is engulfing them. The lyrics are a thing of poetic beauty:
“Break down your walls
Let them see the faces of your enemy
And your struggle to break free
Let all your feelings flow freely but don’t get emotional
There’s nothing in this world that can keep me from loving you
I support everything you do
I support everything you do.”
“Downtown” and “You Are Digging Your Own Grave” are back-to-back silent thrillers that have the foreboding air of Siouxsie Sioux. The former is an immensely stripped-back, wicked affair, as Signe and Maria keep their creeping instruments in the distant. Selina’s vocals are also whispery, but her words have a menacing quality to them. “Sometimes I do it for the thrill of it”, she sings without remorse. Who is she? Nelson Can turn up the suspense on the latter, a dark, heavy, but enchanting number. The song could be considered the flip side to “Downtown”, as its story is told by someone who knows the femme fatale. Selina eerily encourages the heroine to “save yourself. You are digging your own grave.“
The EP’s biggest anthem is “Miracle”, which is dark and brooding at times but suddenly turns into a goth-infused, disco-pop, hand-clapping, pulsating number. The song opens with a creepy interlude, as Signe’s probing bass line is the only thing heard for the first fifteen seconds. Selina’s deadpan vocals enter the fray, and she callously sings: “I don’t want you to think I am crazy. It’s that you made me go a little bit insane.” Then the song explodes, and Selina’s voice becomes a ray of sunshine. The song’s entire demeanor also changes to one of optimism, hope, and euphoria. It’s a marvelous experience.
The same message resonates in the equally boisterous “Moving Forward”. More garage-rock in its orientation, the song creeps along with a sinister flair before rising to its climactic finish. The intensity reaches the levels of Royal Blood and Blood Red Shoes, only starker. Selina’s vocals, meanwhile, tell a different tale:
“Even if you can’t run
And you can’t walk
If you can’t crawl
The EP finishes in completely the opposite way it began. With “Stonewall Frank”, Nelson Can deliver a ’70s-esque tune that is made for one reason: to get people dancing. The song possesses the dark edges of Pat Benatar, the anthemic qualities of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and the pop-rock hooks of The Runaways. The result is one wild and exhilarating ride that leaves you feeling like the reckless hero of the song. Who says you need a guitar to create a song – let alone an entire EP – that will appeal to the masses while blowing their collective minds? Nelson Can have done exactly this and then some with a record for the ages. Then again, they’re a one-of-a-kind band whose potential is limitless.
Nelson Can commence a short tour of Denmark on October 5th. In November, they’ll return to the UK for 11 days. Tour dates are available here.
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