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Music Review: The Noisettes – Wild Young Hearts

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With their second release Wild Young Hearts, the London-based Noisettes have taken Brit-pop to an entirely new realm of sound. Featuring the soulful, Billie Holiday meets Dusty Springfield meets Joni Mitchell style vocals of part British, part Zimbabwean bombshell Shingai Shoniwa, backed by the guitar work of Dan Smith and the rhythms of Jamie Morrison, the trio combines the best elements of pop music from a wide range of decades, creating a synthesized sound that is fresh, exciting, and incredibly hooky.

On their first record What's the Time Mr. Wolf the band seemed to lack direction. While turning in a solid effort, the group sounded confused at how to optimally blend the wide vocal range of Ms. Shoniwa with the Brit-pop/punk tendencies of the band. The result was a collection of tracks that sounded like a vestige of the garage rock scene (think the Strokes or Libertines) counteracted with Shingai's crooning retro vocals for a product that was unique but unrefined.

But on Wild Young Hearts the band has finally found the right formula and needless to say it is a profound success. The Noisettes were first propelled into the proverbial spotlight by the success of their second single from their album, the club romping "Don't Upset the Rhythm." A solid groove that suggests some kind of modern day Blondie/Madonna hybrid, the song has become a massive hit throughout the British club scene.

Sadly yet tellingly (about the current state of the music industry) it took the song to be featured in a commercial advertising the Mazda 2 for it to get noticed by the public, But once it was, suddenly the track was soaring up the UK Singles Charts, all the way to the #2 slot. The band's first single, which is also a highlight of the album — the power pop anthem "Wild Young Hearts" — is also featured in a commercial — this time for Danone — further increasing the band's mainstream exposure.

The Noisettes and Shoniwa are at their best, though, when they embrace the bands' greatest strength, i.e. the lead singer's vocal abilities. This quality is finely demonstrated on the third single off of the album, the intoxicatingly infectious "Never Forget You." Featuring a sound that invokes The Crystals, The Ronettes, and Billie Holiday with distorted punk guitars and a string section for depth, "Never Forget You" is the highlight of the album, and the band's finest achievement to date.

But at no point does the record Wild Young Hearts fall off track or get bogged down with filler tracks. From polished Brit-pop jives like "Beat OF My Heart" and "So Complicated" to dark, musky expulsions like the swinging "Every Now And Then" (ready made for the next Bond film) and the elegant serenade
"Atticus," the Noisettes combine a wide range of musical influences into a signature sound that is accessible yet sophisticated and catchy yet complicated. For fans of everything from Lulu and Nancy Sinatra to Joni Mitchell and Debbie Harry, the Noisettes offer elements for everyone on this exceptional record that will undoubtedly be one of the highest quality releases of 2009.

 

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