Sometimes in the world of music, "pop" is used as a bad word. It's that glossy nonsense we hear on Top 40 radio and MTV, with its over-produced sounds and pretty faces. But pop music existed long before television hijacked it--it even had a distinct sound all its own, despite its all-encompassing name. Upbeat, major key songs with bright guitars and a little swing, pop music was all but perfected by the British Invasion artists of the 1960s, creating a sound that has been emulated and expanded upon endlessly through the years. So it should be no surprise that the seventh place finisher on my countdown comes from across the pond, from Davyhulme, Manchester, just a stone's throw away from where The Beatles' Liverpool, where it all began.
With his second album, Jim Noir (real name Alan Roberts--his pseudonym comes from surrealist British comedian, Vic Reeves, whose real name was Jim Moir), proves himself to be a connoisseur of the genre. His brand of pop draws from the later work of The Beatles, Monkees and Beach Boys, focused firmly in on an easy-going brand of psychadelica. It is not the acid-dropping, wigged out music of Black Moth Super Rainbow, but a more free-flowing, organ-driven pop that harkens back to the days of round sunglasses, mop-top haircuts and dayglo-striped backdrops on the BBC. Fellow UK-residents, Super Furry Animals out of Wales, are the closest I can relate to Noir's sophomore effort, but even their music is far more steeped in modern electronica. Noir also dabbles in the electronic realm, but does so in a way that still sounds deliciously dated. I have no idea what kind of technology he's got at his disposal, but judging by the fact that this is first recording produced outside of his parents' basement (including four EPs and one full-length), I'm going to guess that he's got the real thing going here--analog everything, tape loops and ancient, Roland drum machines. If he isn't rocking the classics, he's got an ear for production like no other because this sounds as authentic as it gets.
Every year, one or two albums like Jim Noir's self-titled sophomore effort are released, and give me renewed hope for popular music at large. No matter who I am with, I can turn on this album and they always say "Who is this? I really like this!" and it makes my heart swell with joy, because it proves that there still is good, simple music out there, floating around in the world somewhere. All we need to do is somehow rope it in, convince the huge media conglomerates and bloated record labels to print it, and we'll be able to save music as we know it! If anyone can do it, it will be Noir, with his nostalgic sound full of rolling Hammond organ and reverb-drenched vocals. With other Completely & Criminally Unknown Artists like Peter Adams and Har Mar Superstar, they will lead the charge, reclaiming the pop music banner from Rihanna and Britney Spears (she is seriously putting out records?? Who is allowing this to go on??), and reviving pop music as our parents knew it. That's one war I'd have no problem supporting.
Jim Noir - All Right