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Nation Of Language – “Indignities”

Brooklyn synth-pop outfit Nation Of Language just made the 2017 edition of our Best New Bands list on the strength of their music’s addicting update on all the most enduring new wave and post-punk sounds of the early ’80s. Today, they’re back with “Indignities,” their third single in less than a year. The song’s predecessors operated on related but different wavelengths, with the insistent groove of “What Does The Normal Man Feel?” conveying a brooding anxiety and the litany of locations in “I’ve Thought About Chicago” couching the feeling of time racing by in a melancholic nostalgia. “Indignities” slots in alongside those two perfectly, once more connected but exploring new territory: It’s perhaps the only Nation Of Language track floating around so far that finds frontman Ian Devaney sounding pissed off more than anything else, a distant echo of his roots in Jersey punk bands.

Like with Nation Of Language’s other material, you can pinpoint the lineage of certain elements in “Indignities.” A more angular and aggressive track for them, it features a drumbeat reminiscent of Joy Division — the combination of its push-pull and its forward momentum brings to mind “She’s Lost Control,” specifically — mixed with a bass part that recalls New Order’s earlier, moodier moments. The way Devaney smooths the bark of the verses into the snarling mantra of the chorus approaches the kind of cadences Michael Stipe used in the ’80s. Yet all of that comes together into a song that initially seems familiar but reveals itself to be its own thing, Devaney interpreting various strains of the past and weaving them to his own use.

As it turns out, that Joy Division beat happens to be played by Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti, who recently became such a fan of Nation Of Language that he opted to switch instruments and fill in for their bassist on a Midwest tour. But “Indignities” doesn’t need the rock celeb co-sign: Like Nation Of Language’s past singles, it’s a deeply infectious track, from the glossy growl of its beginning to the spaced-out jam that it rides out into. If you’re the kind of person that this music works on, this is the kind of song you’ll have stuck in your head for the next two weeks when you wake up. Check it out below.