Northern State – [Album]

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Sounding like the result of a fetish party turned filthy orgy between The Beastie Boys, Bitch and Animal, and Luscious Jackson (who carried the baby is anyone’s guess), Northern State’s sophomore effort expands upon the wildly eclectic flow of the trio’s debut and starts throwing in a bunch of new sounds for good measure. On Can I Keep This Pen?, Northern State take elements of 80s girlie pop, a la The Bangles and a little Donnas-esque punk crunch, and mix it with their existing hip-hop stew to create a sound that wears all of those elements on its sleeve but still comes off as sounding incredibly original. Songs including “Oooh Girl,” “Mother May I” and “Away Away” come closest to playing straight off of the band’s aforementioned influences and they pull it off well enough, but where Northern State really shines is when they slap all the bits together (as on “iluvitwhenya” and “Cowboy Man”) and come up with a schizophrenic pastiche of them that’s as seamless as it is self-assured.

Northern State has certainly found its groove on Can I Keep This Pen? and illustrate that they can not only play the hell out of those sounds, but also mix and match them to come up with something uniquely their own that never gets boring or formulaic. The mix is the thing here—and if they can keep it consistent on successive releases, they’ll end up the next reigning queens of cool, cutting edge sounds.

Can I Keep This Pen? is out August 28 on Ipecac.

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