A noisy wall of sound is combined perfectly with atmospheric hooky tunes on this wonderful latest release from National Screen Service. I came across the 2017 release Hotels of the New Wave on Bandcamp, which caught my ears initially (however it is sadly seems no longer seems available from there). The project appears to have started in 2014 (Sea Level Trials can still be obtained from Bandcamp), and apart from being from somewhere in England, that's the extent of all I know of them (him? her?). To me it feels as if that mystery can genuinely make the music more engaging, allowing it to speak for itself while as listeners, we are free to engage the imagination. Released oddly (or tactfully) on the first Friday of October, A New Kind of Summer is a perfect warm summery album adaptable to other seasons.
With all music crafted without words, I imagine this album title hinting at being created during the first active summer following the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike the moodier Hotels of the New Wave, A New Kind of Summer positively exudes a warm ambiance from the start with "Safe Dunes," but soon enough, we are greeted with familiar and friendly guitar layers before the music cascades into elegant noise. The beats are motorik, hook upon laden hook from the first song, and well into the following.
The title track's refrain has me both wistful for summers gone by and exhilarated for summers to come, and it is not often a song that has stuck both chords in me at once. Consider it a testament to the power of this music. A measured dose of driving bass in a few of the tracks keeps the album in motion. On "Low Winter Somewhere," that momentum is accented with bits of ambient drone that send the song into the ether before retaking the reins, dragging my ears back downwards through the atmosphere.
There is no more apparent clue to the mood National Screen Service achieves than the track title "The Sound of Your Childhood." The music threads melodies of exuberance and simplicity, even when joining together a myriad of instruments for that "wall of sound" experience, keeping melodies bright, familiar, and engaging, sprinkled with the bright bells, synth, and guitar and supported by a foundation of deep bass. The album just feels personal, and I almost can understand the persons behind the songs "Claudia Forever," "Katy," and "Jay." A New Kind of Summer is richly rewarding with an engaging soundscape that allows a safe and joyous escape.
Samples available here.