CD Review of Jim Noir by Jim Noir
Recommended if you like
Belle & Sebastian, Badly Drawn Boy, Dukes of Stratosphear
barsuk records
Jim Noir: Jim Noir

Reviewed by Jim Washington


im Noir has pulled out the stops for his second album – here’s a twee ‘60s psychedelic space rock record with a prog-friendly astronaut theme drenched in electronic effects and sunny, feel-good harmonies.

Hopefully you’ve already got a smile on your face, and songs like “Don’t You Worry” and “Happy Day Today” will help keep it there. Odd, then, that the man himself calls it “a sad record.” Maybe it’s something to do with the central theme, roughly concerning an astronaut named Commander Jameson setting off on a mission from which he may or may not come back.

Despite a spate of song titles which read like lines of dialogue – “Welcome Commander Jameson,” “All Right,” “What U Gonna Do,” “Don’t You Worry” – there is nothing resembling a cohesive story here, so don’t bother trying to find one. Instead, sit back and let your mind drift, baby, on a crazy cosmic ride. Noir is a Manchester lad whose 2006 debut Tower of Love, a collection of several EPs, and slots opening for Super Furry Animals won him some hearts and minds in America. It didn’t hurt that his songs appeared on “Grey’s Anatomy” and commercials for Target, Chase Manhattan Bank and Adidas. Those ran during the 2006 World Cup (you might recall the opening line, “If you don‘t give my football back / I‘m gonna get my Dad on you.”) Jim Noir should continue the winning trend with fans, if not advertisers.

While Tower was created in Noir’s bedroom “studio,” this time around he went to a real one, and a real famous one at that – Abbey Road. But it maintains a quirky, at-home feel. The album starts with a quick intro to said Commander Jameson before jumping into “All Right,” filled with vocoder effects as the astronaut dwells on his mission. “What U Gonna Do” recalls the bouncy pop of Belle & Sebastian’s “Step into My Office Baby.” From there, Noir swings heavily into Beach-Boys-in-outer-space territory on “Don‘t You Worry,” “Ships and Clouds,” and especially the marvelous “Happy Day Today.”

Honestly, things just get better from there. It’s tough to find a weak track here, and harder still to leave the lovely world Noir creates.

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