It’s been quite some time since the last Noisettes album and breakthrough single Don’t Upset The Rhythm. But on Contact, the group’s third album, the twosome seem keen to impress on the listener that it’s been time well spent. Crucially, after being away three years, the group make no bold diversions into artistic indulgence, instead building on the buoyant, perky anthems that so endeared them to the public, tightening up and smartening up on an album that is as consistent as it is varied.
The low-slung synth majesty of I Want You Back makes for an impressive opener, strutting around with gospel trappings in tow while Final Call feels like a prime cut off Cocknbullkid’s last album. In both instances, the electronic influences are to the fore, subtly underlining Shingai Shoniwa’s vocal with a tight sense of production that positions the early moments of Contact as a real pop moment for the group. The chorus is king throughout Contact, distilled down to cute Motown refrains on That Girl, the spirit of Phil Spector writ large across its 60s nostalgia.
All the exuberance and good-time cheer are still here in enjoyable measures too, characterised perfectly in the exceedingly good lead single Winner. It’s this song more than any other here that really feels like the proper ‘We’re back!’ moment, a preening, slick as slick can be up-tempo stormer that marries the duo’s trademark rhythmic allure with some satisfyingly jagged guitar riffs. And it’s testament to the Noisettes’ ambitions that they can put the deep-south country & western of Ragtop Car next to Never Enough’s sprawling Queen-esque guitar solo and make the look stick.
Thrilling future-disco tour de force Let The Music Play meddles with the synths again while piano ballad Travelling Light offers a surprisingly moving moment of solace, underscored by military drum-beat and the lonely rumble of railroad tracks. The album plays to all comers, a little bit of this, a little of that, gathering in the threads that come together to round off a record and group that feel safe in their accomplishments. If Contact sounds like a particular commercial album, it’s achieved that commerciality through smarts and intellect rather than trend chasing. Most importantly though, it sounds unmistakeably like classic Noisettes.
Download: Winner, Let The Music Play, Travelling Light
What did you think of their debut album? I checked it out a few months after Wild Young Hearts and initially I thought it was bad. But it's really grown on me and I think it's as good as their second album. It sounds like they're going in a poppier direction this era!
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