Brooklyn synth-pop trio and Paste Best of What’s Next picks Nation of Language have shared a fourth single from their sophomore album A Way Forward. Out now alongside a lyric video, “A Word & A Wave” follows “Across That Fine Line,” “Wounds of Love” and “This Fractured Mind.”
“A Word & A Wave” interweaves synths both droning and staccato under singer and songwriter Ian Devaney’s plaintive vocals, imbuing the little social niceties from which it takes its title with a sense of sweeping scale and grandeur—making one small step feel like a giant leap. Eventually, Devaney’s voice falls away, leaving only the track’s atmospheric synths and a rib-rattling kick drum, as if the song has surrendered to the unknowable.
Devaney says of “A Word & A Wave” in a statement:
I was thinking a lot about simple social gestures and how randomly important they can be in key moments. How empowering it can feel when someone remembers your name; how slighted you can feel when someone you only kind-of know passes by without acknowledgment.
The song is a kind of vignette on someone who desperately wants to be the one that makes everyone feel good and has in turn neglected themself. Trying as hard as they can to be there for people who are barely in their lives, hoping that this will bring meaning and fulfillment, when it really just ends up leaving them emotionally spent and scattered.
“When writing the song, I kept finding myself imagining this person living in Portland, Maine,” adds Devaney. “It’s never mentioned in the lyrics, but I found myself wishing I could have conveyed the rest of the scene I pictured—a warmly lit room on a calm overcast evening in a small coastal city. When it came time to make the video I saw our chance and decided we would journey up there and follow that vision as much as we could.”
Nation of Language filmed their “A Word & A Wave” lyric video with Penina Warren. The band is set to tour the U.S. (their first headlining Stateside run) and U.K. extensively in late 2021 and early 2022, respectively.
Watch the “A Word & A Wave” video below, and revisit Nation of Language’s tour dates and the details of A Way Forward right here ahead of the album’s Nov. 5 release.