Album Review: Nana Grizol – Ursa Minor

By Devon Hannan, Features Editor
[Orange Twin; 2017]
Rating: 7.5/10

Key Tracks: “Photos from When We Were Young,” “TV Song,” “Window”

The catchiest folk-punk band is back with their first LP in seven years (it’s about time). Ursa Minor bursts with optimism at each and every corner. Nana Grizol has taken the time to formulate one of their most cohesive releases yet, featuring brand new bops as well as previous tracks made back in 2014 that benefitted the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project. Nana Grizol’s latest work emits an energy unlike any other and its timing could not be more appropriate.

Ursa Minor doesn’t miss a beat, with songs detailing unconventional political statements that are often overlooked in modern activists’ agenda, such as the corruption of private prisons (“Tacoma Center 1600”) and Trump’s favorite topic of FAKE NEWS. Among other themes, Nana Grizol skillfully weaves the realities of growing up queer in “Photos from When We Were Young” with those who created an unforgiving political climate.

In “Window,” Theo Hilton’s sweet yet raw voice rings with the lines “I’m trying to drop this habit of always apologizing / This pattern is a trap – it’s agonizing / Only I will make it go away”. The low roar of brass, in combination with velvety clarinet, reminds its listeners to always be the most unapologetic version of themselves.

Trumpets sway lightly over almost every track, giving the illusion of something similar to Beirut or Neutral Milk Hotel. The album’s title tracks, “Ursa Minor I” and
“Ursa Minor II,” are near perfect interludes of beautiful, fading keys and horns. Each track has its own unique subject matter and the instrumental capacity to back them up. With the constant push and pull of tempo, Ursa Minor has a little something for everyone; It’s a platform for their fans to get up and dance, but also to sit down and reflect.

Ursa Minor radiates the “light at the end of the tunnel” narrative. Without sacrificing their fun and sanguine sound, Nana Grizol dually pushes their anti-capitalist agenda. Ursa Minor is nothing short of fantastic and serves as the perfect soundtrack for anyone who hasn’t quite figured themselves out yet, reminding us that fluidity is okay and to never give up the fight.

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