t the beginning of Namelessnumberheadman’s debut LP, When We Leave, We Will Know Where We’ve Been, the lead singer counts off a simple “1, 2...”. A simple acoustic guitar melody begins to play accompanying his voice. Soon a simplistic bassline adds its weight to the song, while a keyboard emerges to add a small amount of flavor to the proceedings. Other instruments come into the mix all making their presence known before a barreling drum begins to play and then it hits. There are moments when you first hear songs that hold a surprise within that make you feel alive. When the song comes together and the instruments take a different tack there is no mistaking that one of those moments have occurred. The song goes on until its inevitable conclusion, fading away into the distance, probably unsure of how to end something so powerful.
Additionally, on the third song, “An Unproven Theorem”, a theremin plays the melody of the song, allowing the guitar, drum, and bass to create a thick, viscous groove. In the second verse, a keyboard and guitar duo takes over from where the theremin left off spiraling the song to heights that seem to be going somewhere fast. The chord structure heightens the tension as the song builds and builds and builds and builds and builds until it is somehow resolved by an unlikely piano and drum loop pairing and the vocal question, “Maybe I should try again, start over...I was on the verge” hinting at the unresolved climax that occurred only a few seconds ago. It is a unique fusion of song structure and lyric construction that beats just about any other single released this year by an independent band.
There are a few moments on this record much like those previous two and it’s almost too bad, as a large portion of the record doesn’t live up to the standard set forth by these defining points. In fact, it’s almost hard to judge the rest of the record when these single things stand out so prominently.
Some songs fare better than others. The impeccable production is a constant, but sometimes the melodies or ideas do not match the intensity of the aforementioned songs. Specifically, on “How To Attract Love”, the group plays a bouncy number underneath a sampled recording. The middle section featuring the full band appears out of nothing and makes for a jarring listen. The reappearance of the sampled recording for the conclusion of the song seems both forced and unnecessary. In addition, while “I Know How You Got Old” contains some production flourishes that lighten up the song, it sounds almost naked in comparison to the previous songs that attempted to fit as much noise as possible into a pop song.
The fusion of electronic, keyboard driven melodies is reminiscent of Grandaddy, but thankfully they have left the lyrics regarding emotional robots to that group. And while the group has not matched The Sophtware Slump here, overall, it is an exceptional debut record which bodes well for the future recordings of the band. Definitely keep an eye on these guys.