Only two albums in, the band that evolved out of the unlikely named Father Bloopy has struck the mother lode with an effort that ranks as a genuinely substantial early accomplishment. In fact, let's be so bold as to suggest it brings to mind another disc produced by a multi-tasking trio, namely, Band on the Run, the product of Paul McCartney and the remnants of Wings. Granted, that's a bold assessment and perhaps a bit verbose, but it's a comparison that's also nudged along by the fact that the group - Roger Houdaille (guitars, vocals, keyboards), Nina Souto (bass, vocals), Arturo Garcia (drums, percussion, vocals, guitar) - clearly take their cue not from McCartney and company, along with a legion of Brit pop players in general - the Kinks, the Move, and, naturally, the Beatles among them. They swathe their sound with broad strokes, applying group harmonies, rich instrumental overlays and a vibrant undertow to songs that benefit immeasurably from a giddy and unabashedly effusive approach.
That knowing attitude serves the album well - from the riveting delivery
of the boldly dubbed "Smashing Time" and the propulsive sway of "Mind
Down" to the lofty airs of "Upper Hand" and the chirpy final entry,
"Tired of Dancing." "Sky Dancing" best sums up their strengths, a
churning, tuneful rocker that bobs and weaves its way towards a stubborn
refrain and a breezy rocking coda that keeps its grip on the listener
even as its final notes fade away.
Which all goes back to that original comparison. Boasting only three
players in their ranks, it's clear the band worked overtime to stack
these playful sounds. It's impressive too that Ex Norwegian's adherence
to such strict democratic principles allows each member to contribute to
the songwriting mix while still maintaining a seamless flow.
Consequently, Sketch belies its title. In truth, it's more a
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Ex Norwegian perform with Alexander and Die Stinkin'. 9 p.m., Saturday,
June 26, at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Call
561-832-9999, or visit here.