If their debut album is any indication, the Nod have the ideas, wit and chops to make some great songs; they just haven't yet found the recipe to get you nodding along for very long.
This isn't a diss on the band but a bit of encouragement to dig deeper into melodies and push the envelope a bit farther in the lyrics department. Many of the seven tracks on the disc have something that redeems the parts that sag a bit, from a driving, New Wave-esque synth-and-guitar groove in "Hometown Kid" to a nice, angular swatch of guitarwork and Sonic Youth-style dissonance on opening track "The States."
Random bits of weirdness, such as the lyric "I should probably start kissing things three inches from my face" in "Frustrating the Shit Out of You," are more puzzling than intriguing, though. And while "The States" has a great surf-meets-pop-punk air to it, the hooks don't really sink in. Same goes for "Watering Hole," a drinking-and-thinking tune that blends an Old 97's type of melody with some lonesome-cowboy whistling and a smattering of polka. It's likable enough, but it lacks the razor-sharp hooks of Rhett Miller and company.
But that's the beauty of a debut: The band are still figuring out their sound. Though the 97's and Spoon, two groups the Nod list as influences, clearly inspired this recording, it's not as clear how Led Zeppelin and Stone Temple Pilots - two other influences they cite - had an impact. The band's heaviest-sounding song, "Talk in Code," ventures into Weezer territory briefly, but more from the harmonies and uh-huh chorus than from 20-ton bass lines. It's a good example of where the band might try out a harder sound, even if only to decide they want to head down the alt-country road in the future.