Baltimore alternative rock outfit Normal Suits reignite the poetic complexities of a simpler era, with an impressively humble yet engaging new EP – one that increasingly blends the unexpected with the deeply reflective.

Introducing the project with a sort of indie-rock guitar anthem fused with a blues stomp vibe, New Friend Market leads with a likable balance of infectious groove, catchy hook, and mysterious lyrics that beg for you to listen more closely. It’s a strong start, both familiar and intriguing in its presentation of a band who go on to utilize more than a few unpredictable threads of creativity.

Consider the cascading synth melody of Same Reactions, the suddenly echoing vocal presence with a twist of grunge accompanying an otherwise eighties-esque floor-filler – both uplifting and dark in its sound and story.

The writing and composition of each song on New Friend Market is categorically its core strength, Normal Suits are refreshing for this quality – not focused on quirks or volume or simple personality, rather showcasing an affinity for the complexities of human emotion and artistic storytelling. That approach is rare in modern music, and should be celebrated when stumbled upon.

Things shift again for the dreamy soul and trip-hop tones of Business of Hand. Softer vocals, piercingly captivating lyrics, a 2000s mood akin to Zero 7 – well-placed for its warmth and calm in guiding us towards the mildly heavier drum, bass and guitar peak of later. As ever, the band keep things brilliantly original in sentiment and structure, now leaning towards the likes of REM and Muse but still maintaining that superb balance of the deeply intimate and the poetically intriguing and relatable. This one is a personal favorite from the EP.

Rebuilt Poetic wraps things up with more of that hazy, grungy nostalgia, and some essential twists of artistry that now effectively set in stone the Normal Suits identity and freedom of expression. Once again, the title line is not the one that lingers – instead it’s some other lyric within, some idea or feeling, and this is a huge part of what creates that nostalgic appeal and indie-band realness.

The songs of New Friend Market keep on giving, stripping away the surface level disguises of the modern music scene – just four originals but with multiple layers of depth and uncertainty to explore. A live show would no doubt connect in a whole other way, but for now – these studio recordings provide exactly the kind of alt-rock escapism the deeper-thinkers, distance commuters and insomniacs out there will revel in.

Rebecca Cullen for
October, 2023

Under the Radar: Normal Suits

Want a dose of blood-pumping contemporary rock? If so, you need to check out Normal Suits. Already blasting the Baltimore indie rock scene to pieces, this experienced trio of musicians have come together to deliver a refined and intelligent debut album: Our New Happy Life. It’s edgy, powerful and packs a punch, but it remains well-structured and draws on a range of influences to ensure it keeps you on your toes.

They’re seriously experienced musicians who are equally happy on stage as they are in the studio or behind the mixing desk. Of course they write their music but they also record, produce, mix and master everything themselves, ensuring their sound is exactly as intended. So many rock bands choose the easy option and imitate others. Normal Suits don’t. They have vision and it shows.

February 2018

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