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The Noisettes
What's the Time Mr. Wolf
Release Date April 17, 2007


Reviewed by Eric Atienza

Ever wonder what going crazy sounds like? Or stayed up nights pondering the auditory equivalent of everything you hold to be true blurring and dissolving? If you have ever been curious what a recording of dream, nightmare and reality blending together in cacophonic chaos might sound like, look no further. The answer is What’s the Time Mr. Wolf, the debut album from U.K. three piece The Noisettes, and crazy never sounded so good.

With jagged, dissonant eddies of seemingly conflicting genres and wisps of anarchic energy The Noisettes offer slightly distorted experimentations of familiar sounds and moods. “Don’t Give Up” doses White Stripes-esque garage rock with a healthy does of swing while “Count of Monte Christo” combines soft, slight sinister music with the vocals of a 50s nightclub singer. “IWE” is the stand out track of the record combining driving, cavernous rock with dark, angular guitars and a style of singing switching between secret and conspiratorial and brashly explosive. Punk makes an appearance on both “Sister Rosetta” and the skank-inducing “Nothing to Dread” before the album begins to mellow in its last few tracks.
While these slower songs are less challenging than their busier counterparts, songs like “Cannot Even (Break Free)” show a more personal side of the band through spare instrumentals and smoky, plaintive cries. Secret track “I Will Never Fall in Love Again” is easily the most conventional of the record, but it is also the most touching and emotionally evocative. Guitarist Dan Smith joins singer Shingai Shoniwa on vocals in a performance of contrasts reminiscent of Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanagan’s Ballad of the Broken Seas.

This is surely a very impressive debut however the band hasn’t quite got everything figured out when it comes to their sound. Shoniwa’s philosophy of “Words are not my slave; sometimes it’s more about the way they sound and how you execute a note with it” usually works well but now and then a clunky, simplistic lyric will interrupt imaginative creativity flowing through a song. Additionally, their habit of beginning in one genre and radically shifting to another midway through is startling and compelling at the front end of the record but becomes almost expected towards the end. The ambition of bending and destroying the lines between genres is admirable but listening through this record one wish they would take different routes in doing it.

These pitfalls, however, are minor concerns when faced with the energy and polish this young band possesses. If they master their voice and the array of genres they harness in their songs The Noisettes could easily become one of the most interesting and innovative bands of the last few years.

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