There’s so much to enjoy in N4Novermber’s debut EP, and there’s also so much to not enjoy.
N4November is the one-man band hailing from Sydney, its lone member is the lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Alex. Alex’s questions are grand and thoughtful, and his vision and ambition are inspiring and bold. His work ethic and dedication to music he wrote at 16 are brilliant and the effort spent on bringing this EP out into the light in this shape is something to be admired.
But the gripes are there, and they are present on every song, and just difficult to ignore. For one, N4November claims that he wanted every song in the album to sound authentic and truthful, and to hit the listeners where it hurts the most (Why, man? Ouch), but what we get are songs with production so pristine and spec-less, that they sound synthetic and antiseptic. The singing voice of Alex is nice and intimate, if not overly wide or aesthetically unique, and he manages to utilize it in an amazing and efficient way, making the singing compelling and engaging, but we find that he uses phrasing and melodies that are suspiciously alike throughout the songs, making the melodies feel repetitive and somewhat predictable. The lyrics are beautiful. Introspective and contemplative. Truly mature. But we find them coupled with slightly stale 4-chord-loops that add another layer of predictability to the formula.
But it’s not all bad. I promise! This album was a fun listen. I had no hard time digesting the rhythmic, tight guitar riffs on the starter, Dear Friend, and the next track, Constant Reminder. I enjoyed the epic fills on the antiseptic, yet heavy-handed and dramatic drums. Dear Friend in particular, my personal favorite, is very richly written. With chords that are cliché, but heartfelt and intoxicating. The vocal performance on the chorus is also one of the most memorable and the lyrics are some of the most heartbreaking. Constant Reminder features singing that sounds similar to the starter, and here, the problems start emerging. The high-octane, modern rock sound is already overused. So, a particularly clever songwriting and exceptionally smart lyricism are urgently needed to make something brand new and truly exciting out of this sound, and both are lacking on this song, that’s well written, and with lyrics that are nice, but feature nothing especially engaging. I found no trouble gulping the unique vibes of Movies. A piano-based ballad that sounds rich and grandiose. Staying on the pristine production formula, the song induces a sense of cohesion, amplified by its slightly twisting vocal arrangement, and uncommon atmospheres.
N4November has come a long way, and I’m sure he’s still a long way to go. A budding powerhouse of a musician, the shortcomings of this debut are purely subjective, and I’m sure that the songs, in their current shapes, can become incredibly popular. A couple of steps down the road, with Alex streamlining the edges of his sound, I’m sure that his output will be equally engaging to all kinds of audiences.