I desperately wanted to like Noonday Underground‘s Self Assembly. Something was telling me ‘This is the greatest album of the last few years’. So I listened and listened and relistened to it.
Track 1: The Light Brigade. Groovy. Doesn’t go anywhere. Track 2: London. Groovy. Doesn’t go anywhere. Only 2 phrases. Random out-of-tune brass writing. Damn, I can’t get it out of my head. Track 3: Hello. Doesn’t go anywhere. I swear I’ll see Norman Cook leaping out at me in a minute.
Track 4: Hush. Random alien sounds. Still doesn’t go anywhere. Track 5: The Hooded Claw. Desperately wants to be the soundtrack for a superhero comic strip. Not you again, Norman: stop weaving your tunes round poor Simon’s head: he might become – god forbid – MAINSTREAM!!! Track 6: Marvellous. Actually, this is bloomin’ marvellous. But it still doesn’t go anywhere.
You get the idea. What start off as fantastic musical ideas – and I mean fantastic – are spoilt by far too much repetition, some completely misjudged sampling, and simply a barrage of too many of these ideas collaged together to create music with no sense of direction.
I have no doubt that both collaborators are extremely talented, and there is no doubt that this record will become THE coffee-table must-have of 2001. I really did like some of these tracks, and several of them are insanely groovy: standout tracks include When You Leave, and Wonderful Tonight.
But personally I don’t think it’s particularly well written. Either that, or it’s too well written for me to understand. And I probably don’t want to hear the answer…