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Dear Nora 

We'll Have a Time (Magic Marker)

Wednesday, May 16 2001
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Based in Portland, Ore., Dear Nora makes pop music for those days when leaving the house seems overambitious and your bedroom window is the only link to the outside world. Much like the trio's two earlier 7-inches, the band's debut full-length makes for excellent head-in-hand, sighing-while-watching-the-record-spin listening.

We'll Have a Time was recorded in San Francisco by the Aislers Set's Amy Linton. The match is a smart one, since the two groups share a similar aesthetic of short, guitar-driven songs and sweet female harmonies, as well as a reverence for '60s pop music. There are even moments when Dear Nora singer Katy Davidson uncannily evokes Linton's drowsy lilt. Still, the threesome's sound is more stripped down than that of the Aislers Set, even with Linton's organ, piano, and trumpet additions.

We'll Have a Time begins gently with "Rollercoaster." Reminiscent of the more tuneful moments of DIY girl group the Shaggs, the song tells the story of a bickering couple and the narrator's desire to put aside her tears and frustration for one night. Davidson sets the wistful yet hopeful tone for the remainder of the album when she sings, "I just want to have some fun tonight and not get in a fight." The next track, "'Round and 'Round," is slightly more rocking, with Davidson's guitar snaking its way around Ryan Wise's chugging bass and Marianna Ritchey's endearingly scattered drumbeats. Later tunes, like the catchy "When the Wind Blows," offer bounding melodies, hand claps, and "la la la la la" choruses.

But for each uptempo number there is a dozy ballad to make you misty-eyed. And while Davidson's occasionally uninspired lyrics fall flat on several quiet tunes, the lovely "Springtime Fall" stands out as one of the record's smartest tracks. When Davidson sings "I'll see you in the springtime, but you'll never see me fall" over a soft guitar line and spare piano chords, she sounds equally miserable and determined not to show it. It's the kind of sleepy tune -- and album -- that should inspire forlorn souls to spend an afternoon indoors, endlessly pressing "play."

About The Author

Owen Ashworth

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