I'll go ahead and admit that I let this band's name make a poor first impression. Novi Split? It just doesn't work for my ear. This is explained when you learn that the band has taken its identity from a town in Croatia. It's a sort of a Balkan Minneapolis-St. Paul, the Kastel Novi, just Northwest of Split. Here I resist the temptation to fabricate an analogy to similarly place-named-band Bush, because that would be even less fair than my nomenclature prejudices. These guys really don't deserve that disservice. They are good.
The first thing that strikes you on this album is the vocal performance of David J, the central figure of the group. He sounds exactly like Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and the The Postal Service. Exactly like him. Fans of these established bands are sure to take to Novi Split as the similarities don't end there. The timbre of the album is somber and heartfelt without whining and with excellent melodies on every track. The instrumentation is mostly conventional, but the occasional electronic flourish is fittingly sparse amidst the lo-fi atmosphere on the record. I don't connect with the lyrics on every track, which shouldn't come as surprise as they tend toward the qualities of a diary more than of a performance. If there's a fault to note, it's this personal quality of the lyrics. While the intimate tone of the record is a major aspect of its appeal, the inability to relate to some of David J's expressions can be disruptive. As far as faults go, this one is easy enough to overlook. Even when the lyrics seem obtuse, the vocals' role as a melodic instrument is fantastically done. Harmonies are limited and perfectly under-produced.
I couldn't pick particular songs to highlight, because the positive qualities are consistent across the album. If you're prepared to deal with emo content, this disc deserves a listen.
This album can be purchased at Sunset Alliance
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