Music Review: Montreal Band Noko Comes, Goes, and Gets Calm Too

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It Comes, It’s Calm, It’s Gone, the debut full length by Montreal based alt-rock band Noko, is a gorgeous album. Its slick production and cohesive songwriting successfully blends multiple influences into a peaceful and pretty rock record. Even the album’s most feverish moments, due mostly to upbeat and complicated drum patterns, are given a calming effect by the subtle vocal contributions of the band’s three vocalists. A good example of this duality can be found at the 1:25 mark of Pull. Its rocking crescendo leading into a bouncing rhythm is accompanied by emotional and moaned lyrics that shed light on one of the band’s most obvious influences, “God, I wish it was the ’60s.” This comes at the perfect moment, when the album’s dreamy atmosphere begins to sound dull and as a result, lose the listener’s attention.

Much of this record has a hazy psych-rock vibe with a slight folk sound that became synonymous with the aforementioned decade. The following track, Brother, is a beautiful acoustic guitar-based song that would sound at home on a City & Colour album, distancing itself slightly from that comparison with the addition of choir-like background harmonies. The mournful Mormo is cloaked in a darkness not found anywhere else on the album. The quick and staggering pace of its drum parts create a feeling of anxiety compounded by fuzzy, distorted guitar riffs. The tension created by the two is eventually eased with a slow and beautiful moment of clarity where the vocalist sings, “I don’t think that I’m dreaming now.”

The abrasive guitar tones make another appearance on Sunshine, giving it the air of a very mild My Bloody Valentine song. Leviathan opens with the impressive skills of drummer Joel Massinon, playing with a distinct jazz flair, an influence found in other parts of the album particularly in 24’s lead guitar riff. The rest of the song matches the album’s other psychedelic, effects-drenched moments. The album’s closer Emily is its most beautiful track. It keeps the listeners on their toes by switching from a quiet and ghostly calm that is somehow felt rather than heard, into a loud and almost demented bluesy gospel portion.

Despite its occasional and necessary louder moments It Comes, It’s Calm, It’s Gone is an accurately descriptive title for Noko’s debut. It doesn’t do much to reinvent indie and alt-rock stereotypes but the infusion of a variety of influences makes it a mostly exciting listening experience. This album and their debut EP are available on Bandcamp.

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