Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

Noisettes “What’s the Time Mr. Wolf” Review

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

In April of last year when tracks were starting to roll out in anticipation of What’s the Time Mr. Wolf it seemed as though the Noisettes were attempting to maintain whatever positive publicity the band had incurred during its first years together. The group had released its Three Moods of The Noisettes EP to a global (but mostly UK) audience roughly a year before, and in doing do garnered accolades from hype machines, critics and bands alike. But in America, the slow game of telephone being played across the Atlantic had reduced the initial “vibrant, deep seeded blues-based rock trio” to a mere “just another Yeah Yeah Yeahs.”

As the new songs kept rolling out the band’s sound began distancing itself from the early rock roots showcased on the EP that it had so viciously strived. “Ime,” “Don’t Give Up” and “Scratch Your Name” all began sounding as though they were playing to rather than against the band’s critics. Months crept by, release dates were pushed back and the fire under the band continued to cool; the recording ethos that was to help the band though this digital era of exposure now seemed a distant thought.

Roughly a year after the first track broke What’s the Time Mr. Wolfdropped with an unexpected sense of timing. The album allows those who had heard the band when NME first called them “One of rock n’ roll’s best kept secrets” a bit of familiar reprieve while also allowing new listeners distance from the critical fingerwagging which once condemned The Noisettes for simply sounding like other good bands.

To a fresh listener, one which may have possibly purchased the album for its vibrant cover the album will sound fresh; but rather than sounding like nothing you’ve heard before, it will sound like everything you’ve heard before, just all at once. But to someone listening to the album knowing fully well the history, the British media’s push and The United States’ cynical reaction, the album overshadows the music; which is a shame because the music is quite good despite its change in direction.

Its direct approach on “Sister Rosetta” helps to expel the band’s previous musical focus, replacing the group’s toned down, slow method with that of a modern suburban pop punk….but you know, with soul. “Scratch your name into the fabric of this world before you go” is a lyric you can half drunkenly discuss with friends for hours, knowing that by the end of the conversation one of you is going to be crying and the others will be embracing one another with the “us against the world” conclusions you’ve all drawn. And that in itself is rock and roll. The album is rock and roll on a modern level. It plays to those who love The Rolling Stones cockiness and The Hives unabashedness alike. Possibly in spite of its top-heavy lyrics, breakout potential, its (at times) stunning musical ability and otherwise over-hyped attributes the Noisettes might yet make a career and name for itself outside of the world NME has created for it. And if they given the opportunity, America might pay attention.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]