Review Summary: Noisettes turn it down on Wild Young Hearts.
Last time around, Noisettes arrived with a spotty debut possessing great energy and promise, but lacking anything all that distinctive -- beyond firecracker vocalist, Shingai Shoniwa. Soul's answer to punk, or vice versa, Shingai runs the show. The band is called Noisettes and she's the only girl in the group. Make no mistake, this is her band. She exudes energy, charisma and passionate rock and roll spirit. Early on, the group would list themselves as NOISEttes, a conjunction of their early roots: Garage rock and '60s girl-group soul. Noisettes, however, are not a girl group, as there are a couple scuzzy fellas lurking in the band. A three piece unit with Shoniwa on the bass, Dan Smith strumming the strings and, until recently, Jamie Morrison behind the kit. The band will likely move forward all the same without his assist. In fact, Shingai could probably take it from here alone.
The NOISE has always been a prominent aspect of the group's generally messy sound. It also happens to be the facet of their style most notably absent on Wild Young Hearts
. The band that could once easily be classified as indie suddenly sounds cleaned up, streamlined and commercially viable. “Sometimes”
comes to life softly with classically inspired acoustic guitar, setting a serious tone that continues throughout the record with only a few notable exceptions. The album takes a drastic change in sound with “Don't Upset the Rhythm (Go Baby Go)”
. The track is about as blatant a pop song as could be written, and the lyrics “Go Baby Go
” had to have been the top choice available for clichéd words not yet featured sequentially in a pop single. The song likely comes as a shock to fans of the group's earlier work, as it's the largest, most concentrated effort at a mega-scale pop hit that could be attempted. Likely losing a few fans in the mix, Noisettes assuredly gained plenty to compensate, as the track reached number 2 in its native UK. Their previous chart peak was 63 in '07 with “Sister Rosetta (Capture the Spirit),”
a rockabilly punk inspired romp off their debut. Nothing like the dance pop found here. “Saturday Night”
is another bright lights, big spectacle dancer with an equally sterilized pop chorus. “Oh-oh oh oh oh / This is whoa-oh oh-oh / Whoa-oh oh-oh / Saturday night.”
The track is catchy and fun, but not a clear smash like “Go Baby Go”
-- although it is the only song that has ever successfully placed the word “shenanigans”
without sounding the least bit ridiculous. The pair of electronic-heavy songs will likely be what the album is remembered for, but the majority of the record is completely different, made up of rock and songs that recall the stylized sounds of soul's classic era.
“Every Now and Then”
is possibly the the most instrumentally provoking track on the record and also might be the best. A dreary rock composition with a harrowing chorus over a melodramatic riff, the track best exemplifies the new, polished incarnation of the Noisettes. The song opens with the kind of powerful, dire intensity usually reserved for Funk Brothers performances on old Motown records. The lyrics are vivid and the guitars are elegant in most spots, while downright epic in others. A brilliant track through and through, it has a close relative in the mid-tempo love song “Never Forget You.”
Reaching number 18 in the UK charts, the track is the album's third single and the band's second most successful song. “I'll never forget you / They said we'd never make it / My sweet joy / Always remember me.”
The song is a pleasant combination of simple and classic.
Consistency was a contingency with Wild Young Hearts
, as could be heard throughout the 11 tracks contained within. “24 Hours,” “Wild Young Hearts,” “So Complicated,”
and “Cheap Kicks”
are all strong, slow to mid-tempo songs which ponder love and relationships from a playful perspective. The quality on the album really only dips in a few places. “Atticus”
is a bit of a snoozer that pushes far too deep into Noisettes' new, tame frontier. It's pleasant and painfully boring all at once. ”Beat Of My Heart”
brings back the classic rock influences, which have been prevalent in the band since the start. The song has similarities to the sweaty, '70s-style rock that sometimes hindered What's the Time Mr. Wolf?
, although it is probably the overall wildest moment on Wild Young Hearts
; as well as the weakest. It does contain a blistering guitar solo with cheesy Atari-synths, making for a good enough ending. “Beat of My Heart”
is nearly a tongue-in-cheek rendition of some of their earlier rockers, perhaps closing the chapter on that side of their sound. The ratio of good to bad songs on Wild Young Hearts
over their debut is a marked improvement. The album is a mature and classy affair, mixed with a few dance floor moments. Noisettes aren't as fun and noisy as they used to be; but they are a lot better.