January 30, 2003

Test Spin: The Good North

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Too often bands substitute volume for intensity on their recordings but The Good North seem to have overcome this common stumbling block on their debut album, An Explanation. Not bad for a band that’s barely a year and a half old.

An Explanation sounds, despite some obvious studio polishing, like a live performance. The guitars wail, the drums wail, singer Luke O’Neil wails, the bass pounds, but at the same time, everything fits together in a way that keeps the focus on melody rather than noise. This attention to careful balance and clarity of melody, often times neglected or unattainable by new bands, allows The Good North to showcase their obvious talent for catchy, but still dynamic songwriting.

On the downside, An Explanation doesn’t leave the listener humming any choruses on the way to work. It seems like The Good North just haven’t developed their own sound yet. Base level, this is pretty standard, verse-chorus-verse, rock music with some noticeable, and well implemented, pop and indie sensibilities. It’s not going to blow your mind.

Songs like “The Center Cannot Hold” and “Saved from the Crash” are powerful enough, but feature some early-nineties style guitar soloing that veers perilously close to anachronism. “Think You Can Stop Me” is more interesting melodically and structurally, as O’Neil’s voice shows amazing restraint against the swelling guitar that breaks behind him.

All in all, The Good North put out a good performance on An Explanation, one that makes the band worth keeping an eye on for the future.

Archived article by Thea Brown