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Jim Nor - Jim Noir

Jim Noir LP

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IT’S always good to see an artist expanding his horizons and flourishing rather than resorting to formula. Jim Noir does excactly that with his eponymous sophomore album, taking an ambitious concept – an astronaut drifting through space – and turning it into a real pleasure of a listen.

Noir, of course, is the bedroom genius whose debut album, Tower Of Love, endeared itself to many thanks to the boost it was given by the lovely single Eanie Meany and its use in a high-profile football advertising campaign (remember the classic lyric, “if you don’t give my football back, I’m gonna get my dad on you, I only kicked it over the fence and broke a silly gnome or two”?). The album was, in actual fact, a collection of his old EPs.

Jim Noir, on the other hand, features all-new material and is conceived as a single piece that features Commander Jameson as out guide into space.

Explains Jim: “He knows he won’t be coming back but he tells his wife or whatever otherwise, to make her feel alright even though he knows he’s toast. Then it [the album] goes back to the beginning, going through holidays when you’re a kid to finding yourself as an old man giving one last piece of advice before you die. It’s quite a sad record this time.”

Well, that’s not strictly true. Jim Noir isn’t Jim’s stab at Radiohead. Rather, it’s a collection of songs inspired by life’s rich journey, through its ups as well as downs.

Check out the deliriously feelgood album highlight Happy Day Today, for example, which boasts lines like “I’m like a kid who knows exactly what he wants for his birthday”), Beach Boys-inspired vocal harmonising and a genuinely positive mix of electronics and beats. We defy you not to feel happy after hearing it.

Don’t You Worry, meanwhile, is another funky performer, built around a fantastic retro riff and a genuine feeling of reassurance, and Ships And Clouds contains a laidback space rock vibe that’s oddly reminiscent of bands like the Super Furry Animals and even The Flaming Lips. It’s euphoric in spite of its reflective lyrics.

Good Old Vinyl, meanwhile, is a cheeky lookback at the heyday of vinyl records that pokes fun at the notion it will ever be replaced – when Noir observes “I’d use cassette but the quality is poor… or is it?”, you can’t help but raise a smile, fully conscious of the amount of times you’ve had to update your record collection to accommodate the latest format. The accompanying electronics posssess a childlike innocence about them, as though they could have been composed by a kid on a piano.

There’s both a T-Rex and Beach Boys kind of quality surrounding Same Place Holiday, which features another great vocal performance. The riffs embody a funky psychedelia, while the giddy chorus flirts with a California Girls kind of vibe, even though the lyrics themselves lament the annual family holiday to Wales!

But it’s tribute to Jim Noir that the hits keep on coming and the album seldom, if ever, feels like it’s running out of inspiration. Look Around You is another great upbeat listen that contrasts deeply to the spaced out Welcome CJ, the type of song that The Doors might like to have written, or the melancholy slow-burner On A Different Shelf, during which Noir comes over all Bowie.

Come the final track Forever Endeavour, and its very spacey electronic opening (Close Encounters anyone?), you’ll be completely sold by Noir’s journey and, quite probably, wanting to experience it all over again.

And that’s an exceptional achievement for an album that still feels very DIY and personal, having not compromised any of the artistic values that made Noir such an artist to look out for in the first place. The mind boggles at what he’ll come up with next!

Download selections: Don’t You Worry, Happy Day Today, Ships And Clouds, Same Place Holiday, Good Old Vinyl, On A Different Shelf

Track listing:

  1. Welcome Commander Jameson
  2. All Right
  3. What U Gonna Do
  4. Don’t You Worry
  5. Ships And Clouds
  6. Happy Day Today
  7. Day By Day By Day
  8. Good Old Vinyl
  9. Same Place Holiday
  10. Look Around You
  11. Welcome Commander Jameson
  12. On A Different Shelf
  13. Forever Endeavour