Feelings, eh. Feelings, they’re- they’re good, yes? Feelings are good and it’s good to have them, yes, fellas? Feelings are the co-ordinates we lay atop the empty and imposing landscape of the world we live in, the divining rod of human endeavour, the core of how and what we experience in these short years we’re lucky enough to have in this tiny blue orb spinning atop an endless cosmos, indifferent to our whims and yet endlessly sustaining them.
Feelings, they’re- yes- good, no? Yes?
Well, be that as it may, but I actually have sad news for the Feelings Brigade today, as debut EP by Noisy ‘Press Space To Play‘ seems to singlehandedly undermine the concept that feelings are a Good Thing, and might even disprove the notion that they should have been had in the first place. Like a Cerberus of three ‘Baffles the Gentle-lad Musical Thug’-types (I will abuse that simile until it is dead) who got Really Into Drake one summer, these three lads bear such an imposition on Feelings that I just don’t know if Feelings will survive.
Big news, hyperbole, even, maybe, possibly. But if you address someone in a manner, expect to be addressed in that manner in turn. And Noisy, for all their singular lack of merit, go big. From the chopped-and-screwed backing vocals atop a pounding drum section, with sharp synths and barked not-quite-rap vocals, everything about Noisy screams ‘we desperately want to be Reading and Leeds Festival headliners’ (full disclosure: I wrote this line cynically, and then in my limited research came upon an interview where they actually admit to this as an aspiration; https://rawpowermanagement.com/noisy/). And their feelings, oh their feelings, spilling out of them, those formless and nameless feelings, set to music, talking about girls, and drinking on the beach, and texting girls, and drinking with girls on the beach. ‘Read about us, paperback/Hit the rave up, full attack‘, said the lads, feeling whatever feelings corresponds to that lyric (Atari Tweenage Riot).
And this is before we get to the fact that, living in Brighton as I do (it is important that I mention this, for you do not live in Brighton until you tell everyone outside of Brighton that you are Living In Brighton), it is impossible to walk down a street without seeing one of their publicity posters, which is all-white with an inverted smiley emoji (: and the text ‘So what I’m in Brighton and I’m fucked up and it’s Monday’ (which after the whole Coronavirus snafu is really the kind of negative publicity the town could do without). This is to say- they clearly have corporate backing, and people with money want them to be big, which I do think they will be. But if they’re going to insist upon me, a member of the general public, attending to a street because I have to walk there to go to a place, then I don’t see why I can’t insist on them. They deserve to be met at their pitch, which is an excruciating one.
The tone of their music, of their lyrics, has a certain unquiet desperation, as if they’re delivering an urgent state-of-the-nation address to a coterie of coked-up nu-chaps congregating in the back of Oceana, from the sample of ‘you ain’t got the answers’ which opens Do It Like That, (because we haven’t got the answers, eh?), or the shitty kaleidoscope of rhetorical fluff that underpins every verse of So What? (using affectlessness to show that you do actually care after all has never actually been done before, apparently). The very clearly 90’s-indebted, rave-reminiscent musical style (you could say, Atari Tweenage Riot) speaks to a certain disaffected irony that is entirely fitting and yet somehow at odds with their almost-sincerity and very real sense of angst.
Their hooks are falling off the walls, their production is simultaneously overblown but wilting at the edges. They blend a few vague bits of a load of genres, like drum and bass, rave, post-punk, rap, that refuse to coalesce into something striking. Whilst it is undeniably unpleasant, is does work as an artistic whole, and they do have A Sound, which makes them quiet easy to market. But as if to match the not-quite-there-ness of their music, within their lyrics there’s an apoliticism, a lack of engagement with the issues of masculinity that they want to affect, that reeks of the cynical.
It’s all well and good to invoke the artistic colossus of white male angst, but at this point it really is worth having a refreshing angle at which to approach the issue, or else you come off as trite (Atari Tweenage Riot, anyone? Any takers for Atari Tweenage Riot?).
This EP is a sad emoji sent at 3am to a girl on Tinder, before unmatching them an hour later while updating your Spotify anthem to be something by XXXTentacion.
A question you might ask, at this point, if anyone’s engaged with this post/blog in general enough to ask questions, would be ‘why are you being so cutthroat with a trio of musicians who’ve literally made music, got it promoted, been signed to a label, Island records, at that, and are clearly working with at least some talent‘. Or, ‘why do you think it’s cool to shit on three people doing what they love and hoping to make a living out of it‘. Or, ‘do you think you’re Lester Bangs? Because you’re fucking not’.
But for a group so fond of rhetorical questions which answer themselves, it feels somehow apropos to end this here. Well, so what?