Noisettes // Contact // August 27 // Mono-Ra-Rama
There’s something about Noisettes that I just can’t fathom. In the times when selling out is harder and harder to do duo to major labels not signing credible artists in the first place, Noisettes somehow still managed to kill themselves artistically. Following their decent What’s The Time Mr Wolf LP they released Don’t Upset The Rhythm which was unbelievably shit and featured in some car adverts. Can’t get any worse than that. Wild Young Hearts followed that and their 3rd LP Contact is no different.
Now it’s not that Noisettes have suddenly started making pop music that is making them as shit as they are nowadays. It’s the fact that they’re trying to wrap it in some arty cloud of credibility that they just don’t have. Their singer Shingai Shoniwa is obviously close to her African roots and this shows in music which ends up being just the worst kind of pop with slight tribal influences topped by a woman who went to BRIT School and sounds like a certain Winehouse way too much. Bottom line, Noisettes couldn’t be cool even if they got 10 from Pitchfork. Contact still deals with the sort of jazzy afro influenced pop that was all over Wild Young Hearts, instead this time jazzy is toned down and pop is cranked up to the maximum. you’d think they would try something new now that they are no longer on a major label but alas, Contact might be their cheesiest release yet.
Lyrics like “dance to the beat of your soul”, “I feel like a superstar”, “just let the music play” and “that’s okay, that’s alright” are just few lines taken from the song that will let you know where exactly do Noisettes stand in the cheese factor. On here they aim for the sort of don’t-give-up-stay-strong sentiment that is common among pop stars but instrumentally they are in a completely different world. Great albums that achieve such grandiose combine huge lyrics and huge sound but Noisettes are just treading X-Factor pop ground here. Their version of pop isn’t actually popular either. It’s the sort of MOR that you could’ve expected from Xenomania around 7 years ago. Not to say that Noisettes have anything on the groups that Xenomania has written for, including the golden period of time for Girls Aloud. No, Noisettes just try to stuff as much as possible into as little as possible, yet forgetting all the hooks or melodies. Some bands get dropped because they don’t make money, Noisettes obviously got dropped because they’re a pop band unable to write a pop song.
Is there any redeeming factor to Contact then? I suppose if you don’t think that pop belongs on the dancefloor and hate every single pop song of the present day, Contact’s backwardness will work just fine. Otherwise it’s a really embarrassing album that offers pretty much nothing of value. Contact’s cover looks like the band might be playing up to their African influences but this is no British answer to The Very Best. It’s as eclectic but only because Noisettes are absolutely clueless.
The Very Best // MTMTMK // July 16 // Moshi Moshi
With the recent influence of afrobeat on western musicians you would think that the alternative crowds would be more welcoming to African acts. It’s been many years now since acts from the continent captured listeners’ imagination and controlled their feet movement. The closest thing to such tribal rhythms today happens to come from London. Esau Mwamwaya is originally from Malawi. He met his partners, swedish/french production duo Radioclit, while living in the capital of the UK. Mwamwaya is far away from his origins and on MTMTMK, their 2rd album it shows in the music.
The Very Best first hit the waves back in 2009 with the colourful Warm Heart Of Africa LP including the title track and one of the year’s highlights which featured another afro-pop obsessive Ezra Koenig. The music on that record felt positively tribal, the sort of stuff that creeps up on you with such an amount of positive energy that you are left dumbfounded when you realise that these people are actually from England. Since then they lost their french member, followed their explorations of the modern afrobeat with the amazingly titled Super Mom mixtape, but MTMTMK here is the real deal, the real follow up. The Very Best don’t sound that much like they did on the record, that is definitely the first thing you will realise. While Warm Heart Of Africa was quintessentially African record, MTMTMK feels like world music. Not that cultural expansion is bad but there are about five thousand other records that have fuzzy guitar solos and trance heaven synths in them. MTMTMK is african music seen through western eyes.
It really depends where your tastes lie before even trying to listen to this album. MTMTMK requires open mindedness to fully enjoy it. The Warm Heart Of Africa might have felt like a niche record but all these dance elements make MTMTMK more of a world record that is much easier to enjoy. Obviously it’s much less rewarding too. Tracks like Kondaine still have that warm heart of Africa but moments like Come Alive is something wouldn’t sound that much out of place in today’s clubs. Luckily a good part of the lyrics is not sung in English which adds that sense of getting lost in a foreign world that’s filled with fun. So when the dubstep wobbles drop in Mghetto, the language is both the thing that connects the most and one that takes you furthest away from such new found love of western nightclub themes. There’s moments of dub, a sprinkle of reggae, it’s quite surprising that this is a record that sounds so much like Africa, Jamaica and London and yet, it isn’t coming out on Diplo’s Mad Decent label. If the lyrics on MTMTMK were sung in english then this record wouldn’t get all the praise it is getting. Especially considering that Rumbae was co-written by Taio Cruz while We OK was created with the help of Bruno Mars. Even with pop abortions like those two behind a couple of tracks here and there, MTMTMK’s african rhythms meets western electronica packs more heart than your typical club land record.
You might just get the feeling the album is a bit too long, especially considering that track 13 is the remix of the track 11. It’s a penultimate track that brings you back to reality with its english intro that speaks of popping bottles and other vain but familiar western themes. The Very Best still possess the warm hearts that they are known for. It’s just that this time they emigrated to a big city and started to forget their origins in the turmoil of the dancefloor.