What’s Going On with Northern Kind?

The credible sexy unit’s latest EP gives a taste of things to come, writes Ange Chan.

Based in Leicester, UK, Northern Kind are electronic duo Matt Culpin and Sarah Heeley.  The pair formed in 2006 and have gained a loyal, international fanbase during those years. Their early albums, 53 Degrees North and Wired, topped album and download charts across Europe and subsequently they attained some prestigious live dates supporting synth legends Recoil (Alan Wilder, ex-Depeche Mode) and Gary Numan at Postbahnhof, Berlin.

Northern Kind’s third album Credible Sexy Unit met with critical acclaim from across the electronic music scene and was described as “…exactly what you’d expect from Northern Kind: retro-amped, chipper tunes, superlative singing, enduring song-writing, and a professional attitude that belies their indie sensibilities.” Erasure’s Andy Bell took to Twitter to give his seal of approval, proclaiming his “love for the sound of Credible Sexy Unit.”

Photo: Keith Ainsworth.

With 10,000 album sales and a legacy of high-profile live performances, Northern Kind were proving that their self-produced, self-promoted music could give the industry giants a run for their money. So, imagine their followers’ shock when in 2014 Sarah announced that she was leaving the duo to focus on her yoga teacher training and taking some time out to travel.

When Northern Kind hit that hiatus, Charlie Sanderson from Matt’s other band stood in for a few gig commitments which went well, so they decided to set up as duo Dancing With Ruby. In December 2018, Matt bumped into Sarah and together they decided to reinstate Northern Kind.  Cue the release in March 2019, of a new single Lip Service which was hailed, at the time as “a finely tuned slice of dance pop perfection.”  It seemed that Northern Kind hadn’t lost their special brand of delivery and instead returned to the synth scene even more accomplished than before.

The band’s success continues with their latest EP called Düh, which is Hungarian for ‘rage’, and is the most interesting translation of the word which the band could findIt was released in late 2020 and is the teaser for their new album All The Rage which is scheduled for release later this year, depending on when they are able to be in the same room again to complete the vocals and support the album with live events.  In the interim, they hope to release a couple more singles.

Düh consists of four excellent tracks which are unmistakably synthpop. The lead track What’s Going On?  is the right side of synthpop without venturing into frothy.  It has a substance in its delivery and invites you to listen on to the perfect blend of Sarah’s vocals and Matt’s synth mastery, while the booty-shaking Bad Idea is guaranteed to have you dancing around the kitchen, onwards.

The heavier FAB surely draws its influences from The Human League circa 1980, with the strong and defiant heavy synths accompanied by Northern Kind’s own ‘Suzanne and Joanne’ rolled into one via Sarah’s vocals, giving the track the balance it needs to avoid it from wandering aimlessly into goth territory while still having an edge. It’s my favourite track of the EP’s four excellent songs.  The closing track is a cover version of The Weekend’s Blinding Lights, which has been given a fresh new interpretation.

If this EP is a taster of things to come on the album All The Rage, then bring it on! Northern Kind bring an optimistic element to our current environment which is both infectious and improves your wellbeing… and, quite frankly, who doesn’t want a slice of that?

❉ ‘Düh’ by Northern Kind is available from Bandcamp as a CD or Digital EP. The new album ‘The Rage’ will be released in Spring 2021. For further information visit northernkind.co.uk

❉ A frequent contributor to We Are Cult, Ange Chan is a freelance writer having published six volumes of poetry and two novels of contemporary fiction.  She was also a prolific contributor to the David Bowie charity anthology Me and the Starman, (now available by Cult Ink on Amazon) and is a lifelong lover of music in general and synth/electronic music in particular. 

Header image: Photographer: Simon Congdon.

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