The moniker Dear Nora has spent over a decade in retirement, as mastermind Katy Davidson figured it would stay. However, a rerelease of 2004’s landmark Mountain Rock, coupled with inspiration from the current political climate, led to the resurrection of the name.
And soon, Dear Nora will release their comeback record, Skulls Example, which tackles the interesting intricacies of the techno-futuristic world we live in, compared to the long-standing elements of nature and fundamental human instincts.
This new version of Dear Nora has come a long way from its beginnings at the turn of the millennium. Their first album was full of straight pop hooks, well-received atmospheric tunes. Skulls Example, on the other hand, is a greater focus on being an outlet for Davidson’s songwriting as opposed to crafting a signature sound. It’s an experimental, sometimes humorous reflection of the ironies and contradictions of the present, offering an eclectic mix of styles, genres, and sounds that demonstrate the spectrum of influences on Davidson’s songwriting and creations.
Dear Nora Returns with a Deep Album About Humanity
The modern Dear Nora is an exploration of the present, with each song on Skulls Example offering a perspective on what it means to be human.
“Our capacities and feats are so incredible — we’re godlike — and yet we’re scrounging for happiness and basic survival, we’re heavily addicted, we just want love, we want family,” Davidson explained. “We’re simultaneously so brilliant and so basic. To me, this feels like the worst and best time to be alive. I experience some level of horror and bliss on a daily basis.”
Skulls Example works best as a whole, a seamless record that encourages personal contemplation and reflection. It opens with “White Fur,” possibly the closest to a stand-alone single that the record has to offer.
It has a vibe akin to a more upbeat pop song, yet with a more abstract execution. Wandering guitar solos paint a musical picture of the lyrics, which reference the mountains in a nod to Dear Nora’s landmark album. It’s a song about being misunderstood and tackling life’s difficulties, wrapped up in that positive and upbeat sound.
A standout of the album is “Sunset On Humanity,” a song that tackles the strange relationship between virtual reality and real life. Musically, it’s a downright beautiful song, with Davidson’s voice sailing breezily throughout. In contrast, the lyrics are borderline apocalyptic, suggesting that things may not truly be as they seem.
Davidson’s dark lyrics in contrast with beautiful, often upbeat music offers a contradictory relationship much like the one between technology and humanity that they explore. In a way, it strengthens Dear Nora’s thematic intentions that much more.
Skulls Example is a beautifully experimental musical consideration of the world around us. Its countless influences offer sonic interest and innovation, creating the perfect environment for Davidson’s lyrical musings and reflections.
Dear Nora’s comeback record, Skulls Example, is out May 25.