Noblesse - We Are Not Humanity
Owain Paciuszko 26/07/2010
A huge synth murmurs like the apocalypse in amongst snatches of garbled dialogue from distant radios on opening track Correct, you can hear the Netherlands origin in lead singer Amos' voice as he utters dry and laconic lyrics in a kind of Mark Linkous fashion, the song gradually assembling itself around his words, transforming from the sparse into a chugging, grinding, swaggering indie tune filled with irony and bravado. Genesis unfortunately is a bit more of a standard rock tune, mixing its driving rhythm with spacey synths to produce something all tempo, no feeling.
You Look Good couldn't be any more different, opening with a Casio beat, turning into something that resembles The Killers fronted by Brian Molko covering The Great Escape-era Blur, at times it works superbly, at others it verges on gratingly cheesy sunshine pop. Regardless three tracks in and the listener is totally unprepared for what's going to happen next, and this is a great thing. Work is doomy pop with an 'I don't need the government' chorus, it feels like a faux-protest, done for style's sake and doesn't really have much else going on beyond providing something for an audience to chant along with the band. Meanwhile Babylon Babies (perhaps named after Maurice G. Dantac's sci-fi novel) sounds like The Bluetones going all psychedelic and spiritual, which is an awkward fit in the imagination and not exactly anything special on record; though may please fans of contemporary Muse.
Thom Yorke strutting like Mick Jagger is the surreal image that comes to mind at the start of Different Flow, though the track itself winds up sounding like Placebo making a bid for a stadium anthem. Unfortunately like a lot of the tracks that have begun to form this record's flabby mid-section it revolves around a redundant riff and doesn't really progress beyond its initial idea, which is a shame considering the brilliance of the journey on this album's opener, or, at least, the haphazard experimentalism of other songs. Detrimental goes some way to try and redress the balance, a slower number that allows Amos to carve out some reasonable finger-pointing lyrics; 'We are part of the crime as long as we obey.'
After that comes further thoughtfulness in Your Thirst, which admirably shows the restraint that the end of Detrimental lacked, creating an atmospheric and bitter soundscape rather than turning into a cookie-cutter rock finale. Penultimate track Innocent Fraud is a sleazy indie pop song that nuzzles up to INXS for its arch sexuality, deliciously bassy verses and quick, jangly guitar lines that collapse into electro-tinged breakdowns. It's the moment on the record where their leanings towards the commercial sound work, the different delivery of Amos' voice helps considerably, all sneer and snarl. The record closes with Life Support which at first feels distinctly Radiohead, with a heart-beat drum beat and glitchy hi-hat over lines of guitar and bass washing past one another. Amos even puts on a Yorke-like falsetto, but its the determined beat and pulse of the drum and bass that keeps the track alive. It builds well, the lyrics disposable, with the chug of the song propelling you forward on its lengthy seven minute course. But even when it goes into 'finale mode' Noblesse manage to keep the track together, throwing in some well placed strings.
This sophomore record from Noblesse is a bit of a messy mix, starting so incredibly, it dips fast, and - a few truly duff moments aside - manages to keep showing glimpses of what raised your hopes in the first place across the mid-section of the album. Things pick up, but not spectacularly so, but it goes out on a relative high note. Distill this down to the first and last two tracks and you've got an incredibly good EP on your hands, but, as a full length LP it's inconsistent.