Ex Norwegian: Sketch

RIYL: Matthew Sweet, Sloan, The Pursuit of Happiness

Proof positive in the existence of parallel universes. Sketch, the sophomore effort from Miami trio Ex Norwegian, is an otherworldly slab of catchy pop rock song after catchy pop rock song, conceived in some fantastic place where the ’90s power pop bubble never burst. (Lucky bastards never had to suffer through nu metal and emo. We want to go there, now.) Some of the songs bear the markings of a grunge influence – opening track “Jet Lag” opens with a D-tuned bass and chord sequence that would not have been out of place on Alice in Chains’ Dirt – and then when the chorus hits, it morphs into the best song Sloan never wrote, all sunny harmonies and ringing guitars. “Sky Diving” is a gorgeous slice of melancholic pop (likewise “Upper Hand”), and “Acting on an Island” deftly shifts time signatures around an unforgettable climbing melody. As comfortable with upbeat sing-a-longs as they are with darker, more introspective material – with the added bonus of having three musicians who can sing lead – Sketch is the sound of a band with limitless potential. Here’s hoping that bubble in which they’re living remains intact. (Ex Norwegian 2010)

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