Either Jim Noir's new CD Tower of Love sounds opposite of the music you'd expect someone with the dark and mysterious name Jim Noir to make, or it sounds dead on what you'd expect. Whatever you think, it's clear Noir is playing up the contrast between his infectious upbeat music and dark name. Aside from other things, the album cover features a tall brooding tower with pink hearts floating out. The words "Jim Noir" are written in a slender, shadowy looking font.
Containing equal amounts of humor and nostalgic song writing, Jim Noir's sound, while consistently upbeat, changes heavily between songs. "I Me You I'm Your," possibly the best song on the album, has Noir channeling The Beach Boys, with multiple part harmonies. Switch over to "Eanie Meany" (any one who watched the latest World Cup will find this song instantly familiar) and the sound's more in line with that of The Kinks and The Zombies. All this isn't to say Jim Noir is simply copying other artists. He's not. In fact, he has a unique sound that's equally spirited, compelling, and yet soothing.
On first listen, it's easy to dismiss Tower as simple pop music. However, upon further and deeper listen it's apparent the music is much more complex. The opening song "My Patch" starts with a toy piano and synth base yet suddenly stops abruptly and switches them out for drums, a standard bass, and an acoustic guitar. Throughout the whole album, there's a lot of instrumentation, and quirky instruments, a nice antidote to the summer's flood of generic Hip Hop and Rock singles.
Since the album is a compilation of three separate EP's and a few freshly recording tracks, it does lack cohesiveness and a central theme to some degree. But because of how much fun you'll be having listening to the songs you probably won't notice Tower's blocky feel. And you will be having fun. Even tracks like "Computer Song" that if done by other artists would come off as novelty songs, will hook you in to their unique universe. And that's part of the music's appeal. Something like the late Syd Barret, Noir has an ability to turn absurd topics and lyrics into more than just novelty songs.
Album closer "The Only Way" takes on a more somber tone yet doesn't ditch the catchy vocals and song composure that made the rest of the album so fun to listen to. Oddball music lovers will love Jim Noir and these 12 sunny, warped, tripped-out songs should hook in plenty of new comers as well. The summers must have CD.