After tilling fertile soil in seminal Maryland guitar-bliss bands Whorl and Black Tambourine, guitarist Robert Goldrick hooked up with drummer Ron Harrity to form this Baltimore duo. Nord Express layers acoustic and electric guitars, exotic drum patterns and the interplay between Goldrick’s deep-throated growl and Harrity’s falsetto. Pam Berry (ex-Black Tambourine/Belmondo/Glo-worm) adds a third voice to the lovely pop of “Around the World.”
The duo took a huge step forward with Central, produced (as was Nord Express) by former Velocity Girl/Heartworm bassist Archie Moore). Leaving behind the debut’s repetitive lyrical incantations, the duo spin slowly bubbling tales of romantic doppelgangers (“Twins”), heartfelt insecurity (the Yo La Tengoish ballad “Madeline”) and unrequited love (“Dizzy,” which features the line, “I said I really liked you and you said, ‘Oh no”). The songs, which are delicate and moody, either build to a dense climax (like “Cover,” which features the best drum solo since Iron Butterfly) or stay in a spacey drone (the title tune). Goldrick’s vocals turn downright menacing during the Crampsy rumble “King,” while Harrity’s airy emoting lifts “I’ll Wait for You in Kansas City” into the pop stratosphere. A wondrous record of melancholy delights.