Stuart McHugh, Is This Music, May/June 2003

With a line-up boasting a nuclear physicist – aren’t biog sheets great? –you might expect a vaguely technologically-driven album – aren’t most of Warp Records’ roster graduates in sciences? And this band’s seeming propensity for medical troubles – including collapsed lungs and hernias – perhaps rules out their over-taxing themselves in creating music. However, there are now doubtless a host of grindcore acts cursing that they didn’t think of the name first. But this lot make music far removed from either postulation – instead Northern Alliance are a sleepy-sounding band, winding their way along a nu-folk trail humming a drunken melody. ‘Buildings of the Future’, the opener, sets the pace if not the tone, a traipse somewhere between Smog and Appendix Out, but ‘Earthquake Zone’ raises itself from its slumber and pitches some quietly searing guitar work into the pot. It’s an engaging ride, twin vocals conjuring up images of Low but with some jarring percussion putting them in the quietcore pigeonhole alongside Tugboat Annie and Codeine. “Of course we were drunk – what the hell did you think?” they drawl on ‘When The Clocks Go Forward’. Never imagined anything else.

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