Review Summary: A creative spark.
Hailing from the musical wonderland of Gothenburg, Sweden, Dorena are slowly but surely making waves in the music industry with their original style of post-rock. Dorena decide not to focus on crashing climaxes and putting all their energy into the last minute of a song, but instead on atmosphere and entrancing the listener with their beautiful melodies. It's amazing how smoothly their music can go down when one learns that just six years ago Dorena was a screamo band. Nuet is the band's third album and it shows growing signs of maturity and blossoms of disciplinary songwriting. It also drops a few hints that the band is on the verge of a creative breakthrough and that their next effort could be even better than their previous three put together.
Nuet relies on instrumental ebb and flow to get its point across, the drums thumping in the background as lush keyboards and heavily reverbed guitars glide through the speakers. The album is produced wonderfully, with everything being crystal clear and nothing overshadowing anything else, perhaps with the exception of the bass on occasions. The bass mostly just follows the guitar or drum rhythms, but the effects used by the bassist and the way the sound is harnessed in the studio make it a valuable asset to the music being played. Electronics quietly pulse in the background throughout, specifically on the songs "Her Comforting Touch" and "Young Hearts Of Summer". On these tracks the electronic rhythms lock in tandem with the steady drumming to form a powerful groove. The drummer also makes contributions by adding a melodic touch of glockenspiel throughout the album, which adds vast layers of texture to the quieter, more sparse moments of Nuet. More than anything, Nuet sticks out in the post-rock arena because of its restraint. The band doesn't spend all of its time building up the music just to break it back down; the music has a tendency to tense and release, only to tense back up again, leaving the listener on the edge of their seat.
Based on the end of the previous paragraph, it should come as no surprise that the band has dynamics down pat. The fifth track "My Childhood Friend" sees the band adhering to a post-rock formula more than they do anywhere else on the album, with the instrumentation steadily rising in tempo and volume until it sounds as if it will collapse in on itself. What follows is the climax of the track, the most memorable two minutes on the record and perhaps in Dorena's entire discography. The drums are comparable to wave crashing onto a shore, rising achingly slowly for the longest time until they finally hit with unrelenting force. The guitars in this section are markedly staccato but still bathed in delay and reverb while the bass adds a stomach-churning low end to the sound. Not only can Dorena create an enthralling buildup and climax, but they are also exceptional at turning down the volume. Tracks like "A Late Farewell" and "Semper" see their best moments during the more low-key moments. "Semper" features an oceanic pulse of keyboards and sound manipulation in the middle section of the track which not only makes the melody more complex but also makes the music denser and more emotionally hard-hitting. "A Late Farewell" features another stellar performance by the band's drummer who is the true meaning of a musician. Never on this album does he overplay, but he also is incredible at keeping the listener's attention.
The final thing about Nuet that makes it such a fresh addition to post-rock is the way vocals are used on the record. It's not like vocals have never been used in post-rock before, but the way Dorena uses them is fantastic and ingenious. Vocals rarely appear, but when they do they act as another instrument, floating gently above the delicate waves of guitars. The best use of vocals is easily on the album's centerpiece "Dandelion" where they are melodically chanted, vaguely resembling a drone. More and more vocal tracks are added as the songs goes forward as the string playing slowly becomes louder and more violent. Not only do they provide atmosphere, but the vocals also help build up the music.
Despite how original it is, Nuet is not a perfect album. There are some rather glaring negatives about the album, mainly in its first half. The track "Her Comforting Touch" is very much lacking compared to the rest of the record. The glitchy electronic blips in the background are much too high in the mix and are for lack of a better word extremely annoying. The track also does not seem to have any sort of point B. This point B doesn't have to be a climax played at an ffff dynamic, but all the buildup should lead somewhere. This track just sort of whimpers out after five minutes of the same music being played. Honestly, if this track were nixed from the album I wouldn't mind one bit. The other main con is prevalent in every track, which is that every motif or melody seems to linger on just a bit too long. Just when the listener is most involved in the music, Dorena do absolutely nothing to sweep their audience off their feet, eventually losing the audience to one of music's most deadly killers-boredom. Perhaps with the exception of "My Childhood Friend" there is a moment in every track on Nuet where a motif is repeated to the point where it simply becomes stale.
Nuet is a monumental stepping stone in Dorena's career, and perhaps this is the creative spark the band needed to create their first masterpiece. I was truly inspired by some of the work the band accomplished on this record, and I have very little doubt that their next could truly make waves in the post-rock scene.