At first listen, Words & Noises don’t seem like an overtly political duo. They don’t wear their anger on their Mancunian sleeves; they aren’t writing protest anthems or shouting from a soapbox about the issues of the day. In the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shootings, singer, Chris Selman, offered support to the victims in a moving letter. A gracious act, yet it’s Words & Noises’ music that should do the talking, and ‘The Collector’ certainly does that.
Words and Noises are releasing their second EP, ‘The Collector’ on August 12. Its four tracks of contemporary pop, whirling with high camp sheen, like a lip gloss discarded on the floor of the Chelmsford branch of Superdrug, ‘The Collector’ could be a sticky mess, quickly forgotten, but there is a punch here, which draws you in.
‘Desperation’ uses a cowbell to ring in its arrival over a wash of synths and piano.“There’s a whiff of desperation in the room” chirps Selman. The rhythm is kitsch and light, all the while masking a loneliness, “you’re a fish among many and a rather ordinary one aren’t you?”, one can’t help but wonder if Selman feels a sense of alienation from the world around him. Simon Williams’ musicianship complements Selman’s vocal, calling to mind Stars Your Ex Lover is Dead.
Words & Noises appear to showcase a snapshot of Manchester night life, as a wasteland of isolation and a longing for real connection that appears like an apparition. The melodies wrap and blend, reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian. Selman’s tendency to slip into falsetto does at times grate – by track two, one is left wondering if James Blunt has been moonlighting in an indie band.
‘Play Your Cards’ owes a debt to Foxygen and Chairlift, and there are ripples of dreampop.“heart is young and my body’s able”;”everything we do is devoid of emotion”; lyrics conflict here. Selman is at a crossroads, his emotions contradict themselves. There are times when ‘The Collector’ does feel a little laboured, particularly on ‘The Morning After’, where there are ghosts of the bands it seems they take inspiration from. It’s possible to see Words & Noises getting some major airplay from mainstream radio, particularly as their sound is similar to The Feeling, at times.
The closing track ‘Rewind’, allows Ewart Hodge’s viola skills to be showcased to great effect, the swelling of the strings adds a lushness and depth that offers an emotional finale.
The Collector is in essence, modern pop music, straddling the line between the independent and the mainstream. Which side of the line Words & Noises end up on is debatable. but ‘The Collector’ provides an intriguing start.
‘The Collector’ is out now via Ditto Music.
This Words & Noises review was written by Jessica Otterwell, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Stephen Butchard.