THE NITS – Giant Normal Dwarf – (CBS)

I knew nothing about Dutch four-piece The Nits until I read an article about them in Record Collector. It intrigued me enough to want to hear something by them, and so after trawling the net I located this album. They have been around for 31 years, making their own sort of quirky pop music, and they have just released their 20th album. This one comes from 1990, so about halfway through their career, and being one of their best it is a good place to start. The band sing in English, and the music is not particularly European in feel, and so they are pretty much sure to appeal to anyone who hears them. ‘Radio Shoes’ opens with a mid-tempo song, and if anything the vocals remind me of bands like Crowded House. ‘Ice Princess’ has a haunting melody and is a catchy little song, while ‘Boy In A Tree’ is slower, with an intriguing lyric. ‘Sugar River’ is pure pop – almost Eurovision, but with a bit more class, and then ‘Around The Fish’ goes in exactly the opposite direction, being an experimental vocal piece with little structure and a total lyric of ‘Dive on a Sunday, in a lake, around the fish, we are swimming’ - but it does have a certain something that makes it work. ‘Fountain Man’ and ‘Apple Orchard’ are more straight-forward rock/pop songs, and ‘Long Forgotten Story’ and the title track have a classy pop edge to them. I wouldn’t say that this album is a lost classic, but it does have a sheen of well-produced 80’s pop to it - having more harmony vocals than screaming guitar solos - and it is an extremely good pop album and certainly repays repeated hearings. I ordered my copy direct from the band’s website and received a free 2006 calendar, so they obviously look after their fans, which is definitely a plus in their favour.