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.

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.


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 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:

And laugh your pants off….

Acts are…


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.
NSDF 2009 from Delyth Thomas on Vimeo.