Self-titled it may be, but Jim Noir’s second long player gives the air of a concept album. Its central character is space man Commander Jameson, but whether that means Mr Noir has been playing computer game ‘Elite’ or drinking whisky isn’t clear – and thankfully doesn’t need to be.
The principal appeal of Noir’s debut Tower Of Love lay in its pop sensibilities and healthy mad streak, and both are retained here – though the lyricist/singer/instrumentalist has reigned in his tendencies to go off at a tangent quite so often. In theory this should make him a more polished and predictable article, but there are still many madcap delights to be enjoyed here, both musical and lyrical.
Noir always sounds like he’s having a good time, and that’s something that’s underestimated in pop music these days. For sure he could be grouped with friend Gruff Rhys in this and so many other respects – and the timing of his self-titled opus comes just a few weeks after the latter’s Neon Neon project – but despite the huge similarities between the two, Jim Noir has an identity of his own.
This album has less electronic trickery and more focus on the songs, laced throughout with sun drenched Brian Wilson harmonies. There is time for brief introspection to start with, and the breezy All Right, with its implied hip hop rhythms, proclaims “if I wanted to be alright I would come to you”. Don’t You Worry sets a conundrum: “If you don’t want to be with me, what do you expect me to be?” Confusing, but great as a pop lyric!
Elsewhere the subjects aren’t so serious – or maybe they are, and I’m missing the point. “I’ve broken all my favourite CDs” he laments on Good Old Vinyl, before remembering that the same thing happened to the earlier format – and it’s still here. This is the only statement on the album that sounds a little contrived, but again it’s quite possible he meant it to be. Far more natural is Look Around You, with its brilliantly observed couplets, and Happy Day Today, where “I’m like a kid who knows exactly what he wants on his birthday”.
Such child-like observations and sentiments lie at the heart of Jim Noir’s musical personality, and the fact he plays and produces everything on his record ensures you get the full man and nothing less. His continually entertaining and tuneful approach should pick up many more fans over the summer, and those that found their way in through tracks such as Eany Meany won’t be in a hurry to up sticks either.