Review Summary: Nizlopi go out with a summery, optimistic bang.
Most of you will have heard of the money-making UK television behemoth that is X Factor. Back in its infancy in 2005, this programme spawned a certain Shayne Ward, and his first single beat Nizlopi
's JCB Song
to the Christmas number one spot. Although they made the number one spot the week before, and gave Ward a run for his money, Luke Concannon and John Parker's underdog folk outfit slipped into obscurity. This is somewhat of a travesty, as it meant that most of the UK (and indeed the rest of the world) would not have the oppurtunity to hear Nizlopi's next, and final LP, Make It Happen
The album kicks off with a short sound-byte of a tape spooling, which is indicative of the method of recording for the LP. It was recorded on 2 inch tape, to give the album a more raw sound, with the production wizardry of Phil Brown, who has previously produced for Bob Marley, amongst other artists. His influence in production may well go some way to explaining the light, optimistic tones of the album. For example, Start Beginning
, the lead single from the album, builds up from Parker's upbeat double bass line, layered with a beatbox-driven chorus, into a euphoric finale complete with gospel choir. It's a shame this song didn't receive more radio airplay, as it could easily have been a summer favourite of 2008.
The following track, I'm Alive Again
, is another cheery number, although it is here that we first come across my main gripe with this album. This song, along with a few others on the album, does contain some slightly cheesy and immature lyrics. Rapping "It's way cool with me if you turn out to be gay" probably didn't quite come off quite as well as Luke Concannon would have hoped. The same goes for the pro-gay Part of Me
, which devolves into simply listing celebrities and political names who could be partly gay, and the overly political England Uprise
, which is essentially a rant against Britain's Labour government of the time. Whilst these are fairly cringe-worthy, Concannon's innocent and boyish delivery allows you to forgive the lyrical missteps.
Whilst these busy, upbeat songs are cheerful and easy enough to digest (even if they are a little heavy-handed, lyrically), Nizlopi really shine when they strip their songs back to simple double bass and acoustic guitar duets. Find Me
and Love Is
are both great examples of the interplay between Parker's sublime and gentle double bass lines, and Concannon's youthful lyrical delivery. Concannon also excels at providing unobtrusive acoustic guitar lines, perfectly complimenting the double bass and violins present on most tracks.
Make It Happen
also manages to not lose steam before the album's conclusion. Flooded Quarry
and If You Care About It
both keep the tempo and mood up, before Lay Down
closes out the album on a soft and simple note.
Whilst Make It Happen
is in no way perfect, what with the occasional juvenile lyric and production misstep (the inclusion of Ben Zephaniah's poetry in England Uprise
is a rather blunt political statement by the band), the innocence of the delivery, and the catchy simplicity of other songs are more than enough compensation. A summery, bright, catchy album with a few forgivable flaws, Make It Happen
is a great swansong for these friendly and down-to-earth musicians. The pair disbanded in January 2010, after a 6 month break.
So give this album a chance, and mourn the loss of Nizlopi.
Recommended Tracks - Start Beginning
, Find Me
, Love Is