When he was a teenager, Bangladeshi-American musician Nadu moved to the United States and recorded early music inside a renovated room underneath a staircase in a former mochi factory. As time passed, his reach as an artist grew farther than he dreamed of when he was 16. Years later, he’s honoring the hopes and dreams of his teenage self on his debut album, 16. Nadu’s music could be compared to contemporaries such as Japanese Breakfast and Soccer Mommy, but leaving it at that would be a massive disservice to an otherwise adventurous album.
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From the start, “Goodbye” is a brief ticking and tocking between the guitar and drums. Unlike the high-energy tracks on the album, the opener sets a more intimate scene. Solely from the recording, there’s an immediate sense of place between the listener and Nadu playing music alongside others in what sounds to be a bedroom.
“Good To Me” similarly exhibits the down-to-earth intimacy in Nadu’s songs, to some faults. Notably, the mixing on the vocals is a little off. But the energy is there, and the song more than makes up for it with a hungry, heavyweight guitar and waxed 80s synthesizers. It’s not the only time synths pop up. “Heavy Lifter” uses said synths as an anchor than another texture in the background, reaching a high point early on thanks to the pulsating oscillations moving in and out of earshot like a flying saucer.
“What Kind Of Man” resembles Nadu’s initial description of his music and is far more straightforward and to the point than other songs on 16. In the track’s first half, the guitar keeps revving up like an engine, making for a more overt headbanger. Nadu still manages to make some creative choices in the production. Horns scattered throughout give the track variety, while the vocals are more apparent, not sounding as out of place as “Good To Me.”
Amid the experimentation, Nadu’s personality isn’t immediately evident until the last full-fledged song on the album, “Inside Out.” While literally shifting inside-out and bursting in fleeting moments, the song is home to possibly the wackiest line of the year. “We were eating tacos / You were feeling nachos.” Whether purposeful or not, it comes off as if he’s singing the first thing which comes to mind, adding to the DIY aspect. And though some spots on 16 still sound like they were recorded from underneath that same staircase, the adolescent sense of awe across the album is unmistakable and evokes a feeling you can’t capture on a more polished work.
Words: David Sosa
16 by Nadu is out on all streaming services. Stay connected with Nadu on Instagram and Bandcamp for more on what’s next.