Album Review: Normandie – Inguz (2016)

Normandie are one of my favourite artists, however I got into them through their second album, ‘White Flag’ (2018). Here I review the album which provided them with a solid fanbase.

For general rock fans, ‘Inguz’ won’t be too heavy an album. However, for someone who came into 2019 listening mainly to synthpop and indie rock, this wasn’t the most accessible album to get into. I was a big fan of how on ‘White Flag’ Normandie managed to bring together electronic elements with poppy vocals and solid guitar riffs. While Inguz has definitely got a heavier sound to it, I’ve grown more to love it because instead of being just ‘heavy’, it manages to remain melodic and emotional.

On the standard (black and white) edition, the standout song for me is ‘The Deep Cold’, which lyrically appears to be about the refugee crisis, which was particularly prevalent back in 2015. It calls for more open minds when it comes to accepting people fleeing fearful situations back home and asks you to put yourself in their shoes. Predictably, this is definitely one of the most indie songs on the album, starting with a slower drum-led verse. However, by the second verse (and especially the bridge to the final chorus) the signature shoutier vocals of singer Philip Strand are in full flow. It’s not the typical theme you may expect from a rock band just starting out, but the song is all the better for it, adding an extra level of meaning and weight to the final seconds, where the music fades out and he asks once more: ‘who holds the gun?’

This entire album is exceptional, but a couple more highlights from the standard edition are worth noting. I know I’m indie trash (what can I say) but I appreciate a heavy guitar riff. The twenty seconds or so of ‘The Storm’ with an electric guitar are some of the album’s most pleasing. The introduction to the album, ‘Fight’, is also iconic for its chantier vocals and could easily be used in any set to really get the crowd going. Normandie are also good at the occasional ballad: although more prominent on ‘White Flag’, ‘Epilogue’ is a fitting conclusion to the standard edition.

The Gold Edition (2018) features the song which got me into ‘Inguz’ as a whole, and could be my favourite Normandie track. ‘Pay For This’ blends the more guitar focused, high energy, rage filled rock with lighter more indie-oriented verses. It is an angry tune about someone who runs away from their problems, possibly someone with which the singer is in a relationship? Regardless, it is one of the catchiest songs from their first album, and perhaps serves to bridge the gap between their two releases. Having also seen this song performed live, it raises the energy of a venue like nothing else (along with 2018’s ‘Maniacs’).

Additionally on the Gold Edition is ‘Ghost’, of which the final chorus has been picked out for being exceptional when live. Philip has a voice which although you wouldn’t automatically associate with singing melodically, it’s slightly gruffer and more Apart from an unfortunate case in Birmingham due to a malfunctioning computer (despite this, they were still incredible) Normandie manage to sound even better and more intense in a live performance than they do in the studio. Anthemic and rousing, ‘Ghost’ fills you with the belief that you can overcome any problems in your life, nothing can hold you back. It’s the best end to a must-listen album which contains a rollercoaster of emotions which are all executed brilliantly.

White Flag was also reviewed by me in 2019 here:

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