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Jim Noir – Jimmy’s Show

Beki Kidwell


Jimmy’s Show, released 17th September 2012, marks the fourth studio album from multi-instrumentalist Alan Roberts – better known as Jim Noir. It came as a shock to find out that the whole album is created by his one man band, with each sound deriving from Noir’s own fingers and throat. I wondered whether my initial excitement for the album would decrease, yet after the seventh, then eighth listen, it became clear that Jimmy’s Show is somewhat of an extravaganza.

Opening instrumental X Marks The Spot sets the album up for a quirky start. The airy-fairy flute and synth combo make for a catchy lead into second track The Tired Hairy Man With Parts. It’s at this point that I realised how obvious his inspirations seemed – whether he’s directly influenced by them or not, Noir’s sound is hugely similar to psychedelic Welsh band Super Furry Animals. Noir’s voice (and slight accent as he sings) sounds all-too similar to that of Super Furry’s front man, Gruff Rhys. To make sure my point is clear, this is not a bad thing.

Tracks Tea and Sunny prove more Gruff Rhys-esque than some of the others, with lyrics for Tea in particular sending a universal message to its listeners. ‘I think there’s more to life than drinking tea/ but I’ve got none/ I’ve run out of tea bags/ I don’t really want to go to the shop…/ I just want a cup of tea/ It’s becoming serious.’ Need I say more?

I’d happily describe each song on the album as up-beat pop-rock and electronica based festival music with quite pretty melodies, which proves very easy on the ears. Plenty of Beatles inspired harmonies and rhythms influenced by the early 70’s give the album a ‘time travelling’ feel with a modern twist.

Ping Pong Time Tennis’s opening notes sound outstandingly similar to a Beatles song that I just can’t put my finger on which, to be honest, took my focus away from the rest of the track. Driving My Escort Cosworth To The Cake Circus gives listeners a great title to ponder, and even better lyrics. It’s a definite driving song – alongside JJC Sports which leads on from earlier tracks accordingly with even more fast-paced, cheerful and downright whimsical pop-beats.

Although, this whimsy seemed to become lost as the album hit its eighth track. Each song started to sound too similar to the last, each lyric following the well-known Noir effect of repetition and simplicity. Each independent beat could be easily merged together to make one big single out of each track on the album – without even a change of tempo. It became difficult to tell where one song ended and another began, yet, I started to wonder if this could be a good thing. The album had already captured my interest deep enough for me to begin desperately making excuses for Noir’s downfalls – which seemed a good enough reason for me to forget its issues and focus predominantly on its good points.

Leading on, Praise For Your Mother sounds almost like a gospel/churchlike single, with a Starlight Mint’s inspired rhythmic section and an amalgamation of brass instruments and trip-hop dance beats. Final song’s on the album Under A Tree and Fishes And Dishes once again sound like evident ode’s to the late 60’s/early 70’s  – bird song in the background, angelic harmonies and subtle string melodies give the album a Hooty And The Blowfish feel to end on.

By the end of Jimmy’s Show, listeners are left with the perfect ending and, for me, quite a significant need to buy tickets for Jim Noir’s next gig. Not just because I can now call myself a definite Noir fan, but because I’ve had  kooky single Tea in my head for days now and I believe only a live show will give my excitable memory a rest.