Posted on November 14th, 2008 (1:42 pm) by Matt Midgley

“We both put pictures of places in frames,” sings David-Ivar, “I remember someone’s face, but then I forget their names.” So begins Next Year in Zion, Herman Dune’s latest full-length (and their US debut). A fitting way to begin an album comprised of stories – fictional snapshots in time to which the apparently forgetful frontman assigns his own name.

David-Ivar Herman Dune and Neman Herman Dune are a French duo known by their self-appointed surname alone. Those familiar with their previous work will be pleased to see the core key features they’ve come to know and love are still very present – light, immediately enjoyable pop songs with clever lyrics set to often questionable rhyme -- Next Year in Zion, however, also breaks new ground for the band.
Just as was the case with previous releases, upon first listen, certain tracks with that undeniable ‘pop single’ feel jump right out at you. The opening track, ‘My Home is Nowhere Without You’, for example, makes for an immediately accessible intro and is the type of song you find difficult to get out of your head. The title track, ‘Next Year in Zion’, is further evidence that the Herman Dunes have only improved their pop sensibilities over time.

Lyrically, David-Ivar’s storytelling is generally more concrete than we’ve seen in previous work. The straightforward stories are not without his trademark humourous subject matter, as demonstrated in ‘Try to Think About Me (Don’t You Worry a Bit)’ with lines such as “And if you find yourself in Alaska / Crawled up by a big bear / And if you feel like there is a big paw / Going through your hair”. David-Ivar’s wonderful forced rhymes are not lacking, as demonstrated in ‘Lovers are Waterproof’ with the lines such as “though the gas was expensive here in California / You had been driving me on until the morning …onia”.

What sets Zion apart from previous work is in the instrumentation throughout the album. Backing vocals by The Babyskins, a horn section by The John Natchez Bourbon Horn Players (of Beirut and Arcade Fire fame) and electric guitar by David Tattersall (The Wave Pictures) give a level of depth to the music we hadn’t seen before from Herman Dune without drowning out what makes them special in the first place.
All in all, it’s a very solid release with no real weaknesses. Long-time Herman Dune fans will be pleased to see the progression apparent on Next Year in Zion, while newcomers to their sound will find it a great springboard to dive into their back catalog.

1. My Home is Nowhere Without You
2. Try to Think About Me (Don’t You Worry a Bit)
3. When The Sun Rose Up This Morning
4. When We Were Still Friends
5.On a Saturday
6. My Baby is Afraid of Sharks
7. Lovers are Waterproof
8. Next Year in Zion
9. Someone Knows Better Than Me
10. My Best Kiss
11. Baby Baby You’re My Baby
12. (Nothing Left But) Poison In The Rain

Herman Dune Official Web Site

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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