The Noisettes | What’s the Time Mr Wolf? (Universal)

mrwolfReleased much later than originally anticipated, the Noisette's first LP is a truly a priceless pearl embedded into a normal-looking oyster.




If you're feeling sinister, you should listen to the Noisettes. What's the Time Mr Wolf is an elegant piece of work that stretches from noise-punk to chic rock as Shingai Shoniwa utilizes her voice in every possible way. An ex-choirgirl born to a Zimbabwean single mother, Shoniwa had loads of musical background that finally exploded when she met Dan Smith (guitar) in a music class. A bit of time later, the twosome met Jamie Morrison, a drummer who locked himself into his room for hours at a time to practice drumming. Then, the Noisettes – a bizarre, theatrical three-piece – was formed. After releasing their debut EP Three Moods of the Noisettes, the ensemble was quickly named "the best live band in London". Playing all over London (on rooftops, boats, in schools, squats, and timber yards), they finally caught the ear of some of the big guys, like Bloc Party, Babyshambles, and Muse, and were quickly billed to play on tour with all of them.

South by Southwest '06 brought good news to the Noisettes, as they were reported as being "exhilarating and explosive, jumping from era to era – punk-funk to vaudeville swing to blues-rock" in The New York Times. Soon after, they scurried into production for a full-length album, and What's the Time Mr Wolf was born.

Released much later than originally anticipated, the Noisette's first LP is a truly a priceless pearl embedded into a normal-looking oyster. "Don't Give Up," the premiere track, is a rocking tune that could be the background music to a sweet car chase scene, urging the protagonist to, well, not give up. Next up is a little ditty called "Scratch Your Name" with a message of posterity: "Scratch your name into the fabric of this world before you go." With rollicking guitar riffs and hooky drum beats, Shoniwa complements it all, sounding like a cross between Erykah Badu, Joanna Newsom, Karen O, and the Grates' Patience Hodgson, all four becoming blood sisters in the dark of the steamy, summer night.

The head-thrashing beats give way to "The Count of Monte Cristo," a quieter ballad about an unsure new lover that blows up at the end. "Sister Rosetta" has a hushed, big-rock sound to it, full of luscious vocals, jamming drum beats, and killer guitar work. "Bridge to Canada" could even be the opening song to the newest Bond movie, with its epic harmonies and (somewhat familiar) guitar riff at points throughout the song.

The album closes with "Hierarchy," an honest song that begins with the question, "Where did my brave side go?" It's possibly the most depressing song on the album, but it ends with a hidden track brilliantly sung by Shoniwa and Smith. Another ballad, it speaks of broken hearts, unrequited love, and a general promise to never fall in love again.

One thing is certain, though: This album is ridiculously easy to fall in love with, and it's certainly a love that won't fade as time passes. A | Kaylen Hoffman

RIYL: Iggy Pop & the Stooges, the Grates, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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