Book of Norma
I'll admit that I had a little difficulty at first with Norma's debut "1". I fell hard for "Love no other", but found it slightly demanding to be as powerfully drawn to the rest of the EP. As an English professor of mine would carefully say about a book he didn't appreciate to the extent his colleagues did: "I'm not ready for it yet." Still, something about Norma imbedded itself into me and I couldn't shake them. I can say now: I'm ready for Norma.
"Book of Norma" is overwhelming and disconcerting, yet it is precisely in this difficulty that Norma best profess their talents. No band attempting to provide a facile listening experience would start a record with "S.A.M", a track that starts off as though its been recorded from the backstage room of a club. Even in the most simple, driving moments of "S.A.M" or "Waste", there is a fullness that most bands lack - in "S.A.M" this comes from the dark amplitude of the production and in the bridging of Krautrock with indie rock; in "Waste", Norma separate themselves through attitude and approach alone, taking what could almost be a track from Tiger Lou's "The loyal" and saturating it with a dysphoria present not only in the song's pacing, but in the detached lyrics. "Book of Norma" is brilliant, be it in the near freak out of "Evelyn", the unsettlingly fast/slow pacing of "You go, we follow", or in the beautiful closer "Empty hands" which is only made more remarkable through Andrea Kellerman's (of Firefox AK) backing vocals. I've never given full marks to a band before, nor do I hesitate to do so with this - "Book of Norma" is the record to beat in 2008.
- Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson