Salim Nourallah’s latest Western Vinyl release, Beautiful Noise, takes musical moping to a higher plane by dealing with mortality, aging, lost love, and a little dollop of hope. His first solo album, Polaroid, was picked by the Dallas Observer as one of the Top Five Albums of 2004. An album Salim did with his brother Faris aptly titled Nourallah Brothers, which has received praise as one of the top CD’s of the last decade, has been recently reissued. In between all of this activity Salim produced the Old 97’s, Rhett Miller, and Deathray Davies. You would think staying that busy would take all of one’s energy to worry away, but instead it has been channeled into Beautiful Noise.
Musically the album is quiet and spare, with whispered vocals mingling with mellotron riffs. The melodies show Nourallah’s power pop roots, but acoustic Beck type balladry is the dominant form here. Lyrically, Beautiful Noise might be the most depressing album I’ve heard since Lou Reed’s Berlin came out in the 70’s, which isn’t all that surprising when you have one song titled “The World Is Full Of People Who Want To Hurt You” and other songs with downer lyrics like:
I woke up cold in the embrace of someone I despised – “The Apartment”
Is there something out there after this life goes I don’t really think so – “1st Love”
Children step off of a school bus into the lane next thing the sound of screeching brakes it happens in an instant – “No Guarantee”
I wanna be soaring above clouds not in a coffin stuck in the ground – “All Waste The Days”
Even with all of those kinds of images Beautiful Noise can still make a person feel good. A song like the McCartney-esque “Montrea”l makes me smile since it mentions both books and records in a song about a couple on a trip. It’s the touches of the everyday commonplace on this album that appeal to me, while others might dig the strong undercurrent of spirituality which infuses the album. Beautiful Noise is a minor moping masterpiece by an artist on the rise.