Noisettes release 2nd album: A little less ferocious… but still a solid set of cacahuates!


Shingai, Dan, Jamie - Nice jewfro... but Barry Gibb wants his suit back

EPR did a violent double-take at the bus stop this morning  when he caught sight of a poster announcing the US release of the Noisettes’ second album “Wild Young Hearts”.  How awesome is it when you are so impressed by a band that your heart rate actually accelerates when you find out they might play a live show in your ‘hood or that a new album is on the shelves? It’s a rhetorical question, but I’ll offer an answer: It’s very rad. Of course, I felt like a bit of a jackass when I found out that the album had already been released in the UK back in April ’09…but while EPR navigates the streets of la ciudad de Los Angeles, a few details are bound to slip between the cracks and there ain’t nothing wrong with playing the payaso now and then.  Speaking of slipping between the cracks (and no, this is not a prelude to a plumber’s butt diatribe) what the hell happened to the Noisettes’ debut album??? Yes, THREE question marks! Released by Universal Music Group for distribution in the UK, it sold only 20,000 copies…bwhah? Good god, there are crappy college emo bands playing out of their mom’s garage that can sell more than 20,000 albums.  Did UMG completely crap the bed with this musical nugget?  And don’t give me some supersized plate of condescending bullshit about the music being “simplistic” or “a good first effort” or “trying to be like [No Doubt / Yeah Yeah Yeahs / etc.]”

Shingai Shoniwa

On losing her bass pick while crowd surfing: “Someone handed me a stale baguette and I carried on playing with that”

Listen, that album melted my freaking FACE off!  If you feel forced to compare Shingai Shoniwa to Gwen Stefani and Karen O simply because they’re the only other two women with the proverbial “gonad” and stage presence to make frat boys quiver and wet themselves, well then, who’s being simplistic? Shoniwa is a bona fide  rock star of the highest caliber.  She may be the single most stylish human being I have ever seen and when you witness her live performance she is so incredibly engaging and ferocious that you find yourself simultaneously fearful AND hopeful that she will leap off the stage and eat you.

So let’s turn to Wild Young Hearts.  As detailed in a solid NY Times article by Vivien Goldman, the band was freaking out audiences (in a good way) with dominant live performances but at the same time the band itself was freaking out (in a bad way) because none of that juice was translating into cold hard cash.  Whether through strategery or as an organic result of the band’s natural evolution, Wild Young Hearts presents a much more user friendly product, at least to the extent that the punk aesthetic that permeated What’s the Time Mr. Wolf may not have had a broad or easily identified audience.  Por ejemplo, the new single “Never Forget You” is defined by a fashionably smooth and polished retro-pop that showcases Shingai’s potent mix of God-given talent with impeccable and eclectic style.  But WHOA, lest ye be tempted to conflate Ms. Shoniwa’s talents with others of this genre, do not even think about pigeonholing her as a “black british diva” ripping off “white british divas” ripping off “black american divas”.  If you think that’s all she brings to the table, then take a fistful of Shoniwa from the Noisette’s first album and try to imagine Amy Winehouse pulling off Scratch Your Name or Don’t Give Up.  No, not gonna happen… because Shingai doesn’t just have the skills, Shingai has the range.  And I think range is what this album is really about.  Shingai and her partners Dan Smith and Jamie Morrison are seeking solace in a softer sound but also letting people know that they can do pop…they can do it better than most of their peers… and really, they can do whatever the hell they want. 

So while I’m still partial to the brilliant blend of raw aggression and musical talent that the Noisettes displayed on the first album, the kinder gentler follow up is noteworthy on its merits and also for delivering the band’s music to a broader audience.  Seriously, a year ago only 1 out of every 8 bourgebag hipsters could even recognize the name (and half of them were faking it), today the band is getting positive pub in the NY Times and Spin Magazine and LA barometer of radness KCRW has taken a front row seat on the Noisettes bandwagon, hosting the band in July for a live studio session.  Even though Spin’s Barry Walters still managed to squeeze in a cheap potshot by referring to Mr. Wolf as “punk squawk” — do strong sexy punk rock women intimidate you Barry? — his endorsement, including the one-word sentence “Bodacious”, is on point and consistent with the general consensus that this album is a beautiful creation.  Es buena cosa.  Now if anyone actually does want to set up a steel cage match between Shingai, Karen, and Gwen…EPR’s got $20 pesos on Shingai.  A younger Gwen might have been a threat… but then she married that Bush dude…and…well… esto, mis amigos, es otra cosa.


~ by El Pollo Rico on October 2, 2009.

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