REVIEW: "Wild Young Hearts" by Noisettes

The alarm bells started ringing when Noisettes’ second album was trumpeted as their discovery of synths and dancey pop froth, and discarding the odd fuzz-guitar soul-punk skronk that made me love their first album so much. Then the first single from it soundtracked a car advert. Oh God. It’s going to be bland and forgettable and over-produced and will junk all the things that made Shingai Shoniwa and cohorts so odd and thrilling.

Thankfully, they’ve sidestepped that. True, on first listen, the fuzz has been held back, and Shoniwa’s voice is occasionally multi-tracked over lush strings. There are more of the quieter, almost old-fashioned nylon-strung ballady songs that peppered the second half of the first album (the opener “Sometimes”, and the odd, “To Kill A Mockingbird”-quoting “Atticus”), but also Winehouse-Motown parodies (“Never Forget You”), peppy New Wave pop (the title track), as well as the anticipated synth monsters. The single “Don’t Upset The Rhythm” packs a big singalong chorus, tinkly little triangle lines, and fun meta-textual touches (“Kick, snare, hat, ride!” sings Shoniwa). The other song with its eye firmly on a dancefloor is a punchy lady-anthem called “Saturday Night”, again with a poppy chorus and bwoooooomy synth swells and glockenspiels and a pigging cowbell solo. Shoniwa is still in sterling voice, her vocal melodies always interesting, not always expected, more controlled, a little more measured.

So, a more confident, less scrappy, more cohesive album, with some of the more interesting musical corners knocked off. Then, the lyrics come through. My.

The first album was slightly nondescript, lyrically speaking. Yes, it was exciting when Shoniwa sung things like “We compliment each other like Satan and Christ”, and “Tell your ASBO friend to sling his hook”, and we get a bit of that here (“Can’t get home? / You can use my dog and bone”), but there were also long songs about travelling on a Tube (“Mind The Gap”) which are thankfully not repeated here. And what exactly was “Bridge To Canada” about?

Here, however, the real shocker is that almost every song has at its heart a really, really upset woman. For this is surreptitiously a breakup album (or possibly the rarer form – a break-up-with-someone-who-isn’t-my-partner album), and it’s only on closer listens that you peel back the sometimes jaunty, sometimes pleasant music to find lines like “Taking lovers just might keep my tears at bay / But the dam will break at any hour” from “Sometimes”. Or “Just tell them / We could be building / Something out of our despair” from “So Complicated”. Hell, even the song that optimistically begins “There’s a boy I like south of the river” has Shoniwa impatiently demanding “Let it start! Let it start!” and depicts her standing in the rain without a coat.

Like one of my other favourite breakup albums, “Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer” by Of Montreal, here the highs are manic highs – frantic and urgent (“Go, baby, go!” yells Shoniwa, and – later – “Cheap kicks are alright!”) and the lows are self-lacerating (In “Every Now & Then”, she hopes against hope for “Someone to tear the curtains down / And let the light back into this empty room”; in “24 Hours”: “Hey lover, I’m in limbo”; in the title track “Tell me when will we learn? / We love it and we leave it and we watch it burn”).

It’s not a constant bummer (like “Sea Change” by Beck – an album I can’t get through without a quart of glycerin and a Jolt cola) because the music is varied and fun, although occasionally just minor-key enough to prompt a little soul-searching. In fact, despite the lack of a huge kickass single like “Sister Rosetta” or “Don’t Give Up”, it’s a more promising album than the first, as it doesn’t tail off as dramatically as “What’s The Time Mr Wolf?”, and an album as barmy, and British, and intelligent, and emotional, and old-fashioned-and-yet-modern, should be purchased and reacted to. So do that.

But seriously, please, someone give that girl a hug.

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue

Went last night to see the recording of the first post-Humph episodes of “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue”. We knew that it was being presented by Stephen Fry, but we didn’t know that joining Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke Taylor and Barry Cryer would be a special guest. They said that the guest had written something in a Radio Times article in 1991 about how ISIHAC was their favourite radio programme, and that they’d never been able to book this person until now. It was Victoria Wood. YAY! She is wonderful.

There was much mocking of Stephen Fry for his Twitter obsession, and to fuel this, he got us to record an AudioBoo, which I embed below.

http://boos.audioboo.fm/player_mp3.swf

This is, therefore, a recording of me with Stephen Fry. Hooray!

Noostar Comedy tonight!

Freedom Bar, Wardour Street, London.
Doors 7pm, Acts 8pm, I’m on at about 9pm.
£7.00

BRIAN GITTINS, AVA VIDAL, DANIEL SLOSS, KEVIN BRIDGES, ED GAMBLE, LEE BRACE, SCALES OF THE UNEXPECTED, TOM WATERACRE, JOEY PAGE, JO COFFEY, HARRY AINSWORTH

Noostar Comedy Night

Hello all –

I’m going to be playing a song at the Noostar Comedy Night on the 21st April at Freedom Bar on Wardour Street in London. Come along! It promises to be a great night of comedy. Details below or on the Facebook invite

Noostar.com is hosting the first of its comedy nights. 10 of the hottest comedy acts, plus the weird and wonderful from the talent world.

Join us on the 21st April, from 7pm at FREEDOM BAR, Wardour Street, London. Acts begin at 8pm.

Happy Hour Drinks, inc buy one get one free on bottles of wine!!

£7.00 on the door (for 13 acts!!)

Email me for more info: ginal@sotelevision.co.uk

Check http://www.noostar.com
And laugh your pants off….

Acts are…

BRIAN GITTINS
AVA VIDAL
DANIEL SLOSS
KEVIN BRIDGES
ED GAMBLE
LEE BRACE
SCALES OF THE UNEXPECTED
TOM WATERACRE
JOEY PAGE
JO COFFEY
And host HARRY AINSWORTH

National Student Drama Festival 2009

Hello there –

I’ve been at the National Student Drama Festival as a Deputy Editor on the daily magazine Noises Off, which publishes news and reviews. As you can see from the pieces below, I’ve also been churning out some comedy, which I’ll republish here.

These include:-

A seven part serial written as Andrzwej Haidonsk, the blogger from Slovenia, reporting back on the National Slovenian Post-Drama Festival in his “Letters From Ljubliana”.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

A two part serial, written as a psychotic Desktop Publishing program…
Cower In The Presence Of The Noises Off Layout Software!
The Noises Off Layout Software Demands Your Respect!

An interview with the Penny Dreadfuls

I also played at the opening and closing ceremonies. Here’s me at the opening…


Photo by Martyn Andrew – all rights reserved.

And here’s Delyth Thomas’s ace video that she made while we were there. It features a teeny-tiny shot of me.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3989561&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
NSDF 2009 from Delyth Thomas on Vimeo.

Letters from Ljubliana: A Theatrical Blogger Speaks – Friday

[Written for Noises Off at the National Student Drama Festival 2009.]

Super-Hi to you all from Andrzwej Haidonsk who is me at Ljubliana for the National Slovenian Post-Drama Festival. I have heard that I was the subject of a question of knowledge at your quiz show in the Festival, and I am flattened that you are talking about me. I am consterned to hear that Andrew Haydon, my counter-point, was in a team who did not know that the NSPDF stood for National Slovenian Post-Drama Festival, and thought it stood for National Student Post-Drama Festival. Of course it is not! Students making theatre? It will never happen! They are more likely to do the sex or write the essay.

Today I looked at three post-plays, all of which were post-interesting, and which I am going to post-discuss with you post-haste. Post-ibly. Possibly. This is a joke in English!

It has been a long festival and so I am quite tired. Sometimes I look at a little play and grow all sleepy, and The Wake is what I then have to do. Nudge me! I am out for a count! But that did not happen in this, which was a look at fluid dynamics in a bottle of Ljubliana’s most promising beer Jacqt. There was a bottle of beer on a column like the Greeks have. And we all stood around and looked into it. Perhaps the post-drama was inside. In liquid form. Perhaps inside a bubble of beer gas was talking to another bubble of beer gas for a long time and not doing anything of note. Maybe that is where the post-drama was sitting.

Next to the bottle of Jacqt there was a tub of margarine. How could we look at fluid dynamics in this? It is a semi-solid! And also it is stored in a non-see-through plastic tub. I think to myself, “This must be a double-bill with the play The Wake! This is Tub. I did not even know that that was happening. What a surprise!” Was it a good surprise? No. I was worried that I would not get to my third play that day. It was a scheduling nightmare! What the frick would we do? But for good luck, the third play “Sad Since Tuesday” was also on the Greek column. It was a Tuesday cut out of a magazine and it was all soggy from the tears of someone. Unless it was beer. Or margarine.

What the shit is this? Three plays together? The Festival Director is even not trying any more! Three plays together! This is shit. They shall hear of this in Lodz, in Minsk, even in Berlin!

It was a shitty end to an extreme festival and I hope to blog at length about it when I get back home, but now, I must leave you. Here’s my viewover the whole bloody business. It was good.

Letters from Ljubliana: A Theatrical Blogger Speaks – Thursday

[Written for Noises Off at the National Student Drama Festival 2009.]

Smell me! It is the musk of importance, for I am Andrzwej Haidonsk reporting from the National Slovenian Post-Drama Festival here in Ljubliana, where the women are women, the men are moose, and the moose are post-dramatic. Hey, boys! They are! They stand doing nothing but lowing. What is lowing? I don’t know! I heard it in a Christmas carol!

All the talk at this year’s NSPDF is about characters. There are, we can all agree, far too many of them. We must have many fewer characters and replace them with concrete slabs or breezy blocks. In one of the plays the other day, I almost cared about a character in it, and I want this not to happen again. My friend Pyotr once accidentally fell in love with a character in a play and tried to marry it, but then the actor who played her was all like “Um, no!” and Pyotr was all like weepy weep. He then killed a dog with diabetes by feeding it too much chocolate. It’s true! This is why post-drama is best. No characters.

The first play we saw today was Me & My Friend.. This was in a coffee shop in town, not a theatre, which is the sort of fricked-up shit that we do in the post theatre world.. When I arrived, I saw my friend Pyotr there. He had a brown sack by his feet. I called out to him “Pyotr! What are you doing in this play?” and he said, “This is not a play, I have just planned to meet you. It is a meeting for friendly social reasons.”

I was excited by this. But I wondered what was in the sack. This made the meeting not post-dramatic.

“What is in the sack, my friend Pyotr? And how did you get our coffee meeting in the NSPDF programme?”

“Well,” said Pyotr, “have a look in the sack.”

“I do not want to, Pyotr. To look inside the sack would create a dramatic situation which I, as a fan or big fan of post-drama, would find not good.”

“Look inside the sack,” said Pyotr.

“I do not want to, Pyotr. You have put this event in the brochure of the NSPDF. I cannot be involved in any drama. Leave me alone, Pyotr. Leave me alone,” I said, in my calmest voice, so to avoid any drama at all, and ran from the coffee shop.

I did not want to look in the sack. It would have been another dog. Although if I think of a dog in that bag, it creates drama in my head, and that is the last place I want it!

I ran from the coffee shop to burst into the installation piece The Last Yak. A cow was tethered to a steel post. It has two party hats on its head in the place of horns. A painted sign reads “Yak”. I am guessing this is the last yak in the world, or the title would be meaningless.

A man then came in and said, “This is the last yak in the world. Because of a simple virus, the yaks are dying. And now, they have called me, a veterinarian doctor, who will cure the yak with simple antibiotics. However, the antibiotics are on a train and shall soon arrive. I hope they do before the yak dies.”

A nurse then came in and said, “The antibiotics are on their way, but there is a delay on the train and the antibiotics may arrive later than expected.”

The man then said, “Well they had better hurry up. Unless this yak gets antibiotics in the next 90 minutes, it will surely die!”

They then waited for the antibiotics, but I left soon after. I was shaken up like a can of Tab Clear because of my interactions with Pyotr, but also… “The Last Yak” had characters in it who I had empathy with, a plot that would be resolved in the course of the play, and drama! Stinking drama!

What has happened to this post-drama festival?!

Letters from Ljubliana: A Theatrical Blogger Speaks – Wednesday

[Written for Noises Off at the National Student Drama Festival 2009.]

Hello from somewhere where you are not! Unless you are reading this in Ljubliana, which is where I am. I am Andrzwej Haidonsk, theatrical blogmeister and pimp. I’m not even joking about the pimp! I run a successful business.

I am here at the National Slovenian Post-Drama Festival. Some people have been saying on my fricking Facebook wall that me being at the NSPDF and you being at the NSDF that I might be made up. Well, I can tell you that those people are totally not extreme and are also dickheads. I am as real as the sun across the mighty peaks of Torstz in the Lopl region. Some have also said that evidence for me being made up is that my name – Andrzwej Haidonsk – is slightly similar to the editor of the NSDF magazine. I have met him at a post-dramatic conference in some stink-hole place in Poland, and I can tell you that we had a good laugh about our names being alike. “We are like cousins!” I told him, but then he looked uncomfortable so I stopped talking to him. He seemed happy kicking a pot-plant with a soft shoe.

Today at the NSPDF, we saw Return to the Silence. In Slovenia many years ago there was a man who could not speak because he was born with his tongue all fricked. Well, one day he was out in a field, picking a flower or potato or something, and he got struck by a piece of lightning. POW! When they took him out of the plaster, he could do talking like any natural born Slovenian. It was amazing! All the stories he could tell! What it was like being a mute, how he liked picking a flower or potato, how picking a flower or potato was more difficult when you are being a mute. He became very famous and went from village to village telling his amazing stories. Unfortunately one day he was in a field and got hit by a piece of lightning again and then could not speak any more. He had returned to the silence.

The play at NSPDF wasn’t about that story at all. A man just hung upside down and pissed on an alarm clock.

The no talking man became a famous writer, and wrote long stories about how it was much harder to pick a flower or potato when you had talked about it and then could talk about it no more.

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be a bird? I have! That is why I loved “Herons”. In it three women pretended to be herons, like the title of the play “Herons” would suggest. Herons! They stood and pecked at things at their feet and stretched their wings and occasionally made a little heron noise. In the fourth hour, one of them left the stage, but returned about five minutes later. When this had been going on for seven and a half hours, I went into a dream-like trance, in which I was a genie, awarding wishes to beautiful girls. One of them wanted to be a pony. POW! I made her a pony! One wanted to be successful in business, so I hooked her up with Alan Sugary. I was a good genie, and I was happy to give gifts. Then I came back to reality, and those women were still herons! Fricking herons! It was now the next day. HERONS! It was BRILLIANT.

Come back in me for more great post-plays and I will spoon them into your guts, boys! This is what I do best.