I normally dismiss male solo artists out of hand as inevitablyintrospective nonsense. Worryingly, Jim Noir is as solo as it gets – heplays every damn instrument on this album a la J. Mascis – but whathe’s come up with on Tower Of Love, his debut album, is just utterlydivine. So there goes my theory.
Hailing from Manchester, a city most recently associated withhedonism and new-lad posturing, Noir’s music is instead delicate, childlikeand luscious. Having said that, despite the computerised warbles, richBrian Wilson-inspired soundscapes and Sgt. Pepper harmonies, youcould still pinpoint the lad’s origins; for a start, the breathy Mancaccent is a constant charming feature, whilst the lyrics suggest afirmly northern upbringing.
This latter point is best illustrated by the two singles alreadyreleased on earlier EPs, from which this album is largely compiled. Firstup is My Patch, which is a shoe-in for my single of the year. Incontrast to the rest of the album, which is brimming with understateddelicacy, My Patch skips along to a quirky, arresting beat that would make astatue smile. “If you ever step on my patch, I’ll bring you down” isJim’s distinctly northern playground taunt, before dissolving intoethereal Beach Boys swirls of sound, only for a final refrain to remind us howdamn good it all is.
Eenie Meanie contains more threats to the unwary:”if you don’t give my football back, I’m gonna get my dad on you” – andrightly so. Musically, its psychedelic rock style could be carbon-datedto September 1966,a good thing if done well as Bees fans cantestify, and boy is it done well here.
Jim’s favourite chord is C, so much so he wrote a song about it: InThe Key Of C, presumably written in the key of C. “I want to be in thekey of C, it’s easier to play it” he goes, another example of theendearing everyday humanity of his work. So effective is his common touchthat moments of true sorrow such as the mournful lost-love lament ofQuiet Man are rendered all the more poignant.
Elsewhere you’ve got more beautiful, uplifting, sweet music than youcould ever require. None better perhaps than Computer Song – Noir’s odeto his trusty laptop that clearly plays such a key part in his art. Butit’s not all complimentary:”Every time I try to make a silly littlesong, my efforts are all wasted ’cause machinery goes wrong.” What treatshave been lost forever thanks to Jim’s lost sectors? The mind boggles.
Thankfully Computer Song and the rest of Tower Of Love survived, and theworld is certainly a far better place for it.