There are many bands who are versatile enough to change their styles over their careers, but few have the confidence to do it over the space of one album. The Beatles with The White Album, Prince’s masterpiece Sign of the Times and Lou Reed’s Transformer are three that spring to mind. Often the confidence is unjustified as anyone who heard Boy George’s 1995 album Cheapness and Beauty would testify (although you should check out his version of Iggy Pop’s Funtime. It just may be the most nuts record ever made). Such diversity can be found on Night Noise Team’s new album Slow Release, which is available from the 16th of May, and in their case it’s a very good thing.
There was a tendency in the 1980s for music journalists to talk about ‘well crafted pop’, usually about bands such as Prefab Sprout, Scritti Politti, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions and Talk Talk. The inference was that there was a serious, almost academic, approach to making this music, that the music was not the bubblegum that many people would normally associate with ‘pop’. In short, they stopped pop being a dirty word and there was critical admiration for such bands that had previously been the preserve of indie, rock and soul music. Slow Release feels like a throwback to these times. There is real craft involved and each song has been constructed with care. Don’t misunderstand me, this is not a nostalgic trip. These songs are completely for and about the here and now, but at a time when many favour an ‘organic’ approach to music making, Night Noise Team are unafraid to use the studio to its full effect and have made an album that is for the city rather than the open spaces that are favoured by many of their contemporaries.
There are the driving guitars on Menolick, the Looper-like Redemption 81 with its spoken lyrics, the gentle piano breaks on All Brutal Common Sense, the slow, almost ambient, build and beautiful guitar of Broken Kingdom, the gentle acoustic interlude of Rideau and the fuzz and funk of Doors Are Closed. What unifies the album is Sean Ormsby’s tremulous and tremendous vocals which put me in mind of Pete Murphy, Ian Curtis and Nick Cave and which lend a lovely darkness to the album, even when the music moves you to clap your hands and stamp your feet. This is one of my favourite tracks, it was one of my songs of last year (see Top 5 Scottish Tracks That You May Not Have Heard … ). It’s dark, angular and atmospheric. This is Burning:
I’m going to follow with the closing track You Won which shows much better than I can explain the differing styles of music Night Noise Team have to offer. This is, to borrow terminology from Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish, a real ear-worm, one which sounds as though its been mixed by Nile Rodgers. I just can’t get it out of my head:
Night Noise Team are a class act who are confidant in their own ability. If you are a fan of big tunes and pop music which is thoughtful, literate and still encourages good times then Slow Release is for you. It’s an album I’ll be playing again and again, one where each track has been carefully considered. This noise may be for the night, but would also work on day time radio if it could find its way there. There are bands who make, in parts, sounds which are similar, you could point to Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party and Gayngs, but no one sounds quite like Night Noise Team right now, and that alone makes them worthy of your attention.
To learn more about Night Noise Team, including where to catch them live, take yourself over to nightnoiseteam
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