Nathan Asher and The Infantry - Sex Without Love Review
By Patrick Muldowney
There are few things in the world that can leave me speechless, but Sex Without Love has succeeded in that up to this point. Therefore, if you're looking for the meat and potatoes, look no further, just buy the album. Buy it because the songs that are good are incredible. Buy it because Nathan Asher seems to have a Paul Westerberg-like honesty, in that his simplest lines seem most prophetic, and all his lyrics flow naturally. Buy it because The Infantry are a group of egoless players. Buy it because it has the grit of The Walkmen, the intelligence of Bright Eyes, and the America of Bruce Springsteen (not consistently, but definitely in the finer moments). Buy it because it was produced for $342, and is a truly independent album (no label is attached).
Nathan Asher and the Infantry's Sex Without Love is truly a fresh breath of stagnant air. With lyrics seemingly arising from a poem found in the CD booklet about a lost relationship with a muse named Marie, the first four songs have the sincerity and passion of a character who truly understands his story for all its flaws. "Leaving the South," the opening track, captures the pain of growing beyond childhood, with the realization of mortality, the frustration of built-up-bottled-up feelings, and that impending desire to escape drastically. All this is complimented by an Edge-like guitar moment by Serino, while Asher is impassioned by the line, "you don't know," over and over. It is simple and believable, but it is only the beginning.
"Drift Away" is the most sadly beautiful song written by a North Carolina band since Archers of Loaf's "Chumming the Ocean." In the chorus, Asher sings, "Your arms they are my anchors/Your love it is my chain/But the ocean has no bottom/(Silent Pause) So we drift away." Just to give you a quick idea, I've had the album about a week, but almost every time there is a silent pause anywhere in my day, Nathan Asher pops in to say, "So we drift away." Then I have to hold myself back from nodding back in with the drums, because it would look strange from outside my head. There is nothing that lacks amazement about this song. It even provides a little accordion, for those who feel the instrument is jilted by modern music. The slide guitar sounds like vintage Lynyrd Skynyrd, which may be the reason I decided the next time someone yells, "Freebird," I'll yell, "Drift Away."
"Sex Without Love / a war," may be the song by which Nathan Asher and the Infantry are identified. The synth of Lawson Taylor helps provide the appeal for this song, with its innocent, nursery pop tone, countering the darker words of Asher. The seeming incompatibility of the two, mirrors the power given to the other side of cheating, asking "Are you strong enough for Sex Without Love?" Many of us would have to admit that we are not, although thankfully, which could bring up all sorts of philosophical discussions about the reasons for our actions. Thanks to this song, we may delve into these recesses of our minds while humming a tune.
"Storms," the fourth track, rounds out the strength of this album, before a few okay songs make way for the final two tracks, which are reminiscent to Springsteen in the Asbury Park days. Hopefully, Nathan Asher and the Infantry were trying to give some clue of direction and growth with the first four tracks, which entirely make Sex Without Love worthwhile. In the early to mid-90s, I remember being excited and awed by the bands coming out of North Carolina. Since then, I've often wondered if the magic was gone. Nathan Asher and the Infantry have found the formula, they just need to keep tapping into it.
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Nathan Asher and The Infantry - Sex Without Love
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