Perhaps what’s most widely reported about Danish act Nelson Can is also the hardest to believe. Here’s a modern day indie band making a tempting mix of bass-heavy anthemic tunes, but without a lead guitar in sight. It’s all part of what the band call ‘Dogmarock’: a knowing nod toward film director (and fellow Dane) Lars Von Triers ‘Dogme ’95’ ethos. Something similar has been done in music before (think of Deap Vally’s Zep rock riffs or DFA 1979’s punk-dance), except here it’s by a trio.
While Nelson Can’s first album Now Is Your Time To Deliver showed off a psych-lite sound, the band have acknowledged a recent move towards something more pragmatic, noting that the big choruses on latest release EP3 take a cue from the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Florence + The Machine. Lead singer Selina Gin’s powerful vocals on lead track ‘Break Down Your Walls’ are particularly Florence-esque with the band’s backing coming on a bit ESG and a bit Gossip.
But it’s not all about producing something that’s easy on the ears – ‘Break Down Your Walls’ is “a song about being anxious about being anxious” says bassist Signe. Similarly, the lyrics of previous single ‘Move Forward’ are a plea for progress, driven by Signe’s bass and crunchy drums courtesy of percussionist Maria Juntunen. Another recent single, ‘Miracle’, is more of a bouncy love song, but with a firey edge reminiscent of indie pop three-piece Dream Wife.
It’s all pretty impressive for a group who never even meant to make music – the story goes they just kept telling people they were a band, until eventually they had to be one. Nelson Can have had some adventures in their six years as a band, from running their own record label to accidentally getting themselves banned in the People’s Republic of China. But that country’s loss looks to be the rest of the world’s gain with EP3 arriving in advance of an as-yet-unnamed second album. If the question is whether a band without a lead guitar will make it, then the answer must be: Nelson Can.
EP3, the upcoming release from Nelson Can, is out 29 September via Alcopop! Records. And you can catch Nelson Can live on tour with JAWS throughout November:
17 Nov – Sub 89, Reading, UK
18 Nov – Engine Rooms, Southampton, UK
19 Nov – Exeter Phoenix, Exeter, UK
21 Nov – The Globe, Cardiff, UK
22 Nov – The Fleece, Bristol, UK
23 Nov – Waterfront, Norwich, UK
Words: John McGovern/ @etinsuburbiaego
Photo Credit: Dennis Morton