A Way Forward is the follow up to Nation of Language’s debut album, Introduction, Presence (2020). While much of the sounds on the band's previous record garnered comparisons to the synth-punk sound of the 80’s, on this new offering the band delved heavily into the Krautrock pioneers and electronic experimentalists of the 70’s for inspiration in the studio, stretching their boundaries in new and different ways.
Discussing, Devaney added, “‘A Way Forward’ is an exploration of the band’s relationship to the music of the 70s, through the lenses of krautrock and early electronic music. We aimed to more deeply trace the roots of our sound, hoping to learn something from the early influences of our early influences. Experimenting with how they might be reinterpreted in our modern context - looking further backward to find a way forward. We drew a lot from the steady locomotive rhythms of bands like Kraftwerk and Neu!, while also looking to less-propulsive electronic artists like Laurie Spiegel and Cluster. The goal was to have a record that felt like a journey, like being on a train that gets lost in a colorful fog, and then suddenly bursts through into different landscapes. Thematically, some of those landscapes are familiar in their melancholy, but we also wanted to introduce celebration and joy in a way that hadn’t really been present in our previous album. Having these bursts of positivity felt like it gave the emotional low points more resonance, giving a stronger sense of emotional reality to the album overall.”
Recorded during the lockdowns of 2020, production on the record was divided between Abe Seiferth (who worked on Introduction, Presence) and Nick Milhiser of Holy Ghost!