How To Live is a deeply personal, colloquial reminder that we all deserve to give ourselves a moment to unwind and dwell in the time we have in this world. It is both whimsically delightful and exceptionally mesmerizing in its execution.
As someone deeply involved in the heavy music scene, it is typically my first reflex to lean toward venturing into different albums that relate to that. But every once in a while, I like to take a moment to reset with artists and genres that are essentially entirely new to me. And with Modern Nature‘s How To Live, I am absolutely glad that I did. Following the release of their EP Nature back in March, How To Live is the London-based art rock group’s debut studio album, and with a track list chock-full of gorgeous, dreamy jazz riffs coupled with the melodic, sultry vocals of Jack Cooper (former Ultimate Painting), this is one hell of a kick-off.
How To Live opens with a sweet flick of jazz-filled goodness on “Bloom”. The flowing rhythms of the guitars and keyboard immediately evoked thoughts of a blending between Thom Yorke‘s quick, hushed vocals and the soft vibe of Bon Iver‘s early works. Continuing on, “Footsteps” with its exceptional saxophone drifts, and “Turbulence”, whirl around in a mix of poppy, pretty beats that swirl together beautifully, setting the tone to convince the listener to disconnect from whatever may be happening around them. It is with this track that the listener is invited to escape into the dream world that Modern Nature has laid out. I couldn’t help but sit back, relax, and dwell in it.
Living in Los Angeles, it’s very easy to forget to take a second to separate myself from the hustle and bustle of city life, but this album began to paint a picture in my head of a world full of vast, green meadows and plains of bright countrysides. I don’t know what it is about that, but it created a blissfully warm feeling of comfort in me, and it feels like that might’ve been Modern Nature‘s goal in the first place. Then, “Seance”, “Nightmares”, and “Peradam” created a lovely trifecta of wispy, upbeat ditties that for a second brought me back to my urban reality, but in a way that felt very pleasant rather than arduous. This new mind set began to grow on me and carried me through, back to that same cozy spot with “Oracle”. The closing track, “Devotee”, perfectly concludes the story that the album seems to be telling: take a moment to relax, time will keep going and so will we, so enjoy moments of stillness and comfort when possible.
Modern Nature was recently featured with their EP as ‘One to Watch’ in a piece by The Guardian back in May, and after a journey with their first full-length album giving us an introduction into their modus operandi, I can wholly say I completely agree. It’s rare that a release takes me by surprise so heavily and so enjoyably, but How To Live really did.
Along with the enticingly unique dichotomy of ‘city life vs. country living’ creating thought-provoking conversations with myself, and upon a second and third listen, How To Live began to feel very personal. Not only does it serve as a wonderfully relaxing listen on a hot summer day, but it incites a call-to-action for the listener. It puts into question the lifestyle they’re living and allows the space to take a quick but healthy break from it, as if to say ‘now you know what disconnecting for a bit feels like, so do it when you can’. Which is an idea that, especially with the current state or how our fast-paced, technology-fueled, and money-ruled society is today, excellently encapsulates what we all could do better… and how we should try to live.