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The Noisettes
What's The Time Mr. Wolf?
Universal Motown Records

The Noisettes' full-length debut album What's The Time Mr. Wolf?, produced by the trio of South Londoners, Shingai Shoniwa (lead vocals, bass), Dan Smith (backing vocals, guitar), and Jamie Morrison (drums), is a sonic brouha of punk pandemonium, noize-rock crags, and wildcat vocal burlesques. It's punk done with Britpop flash and fronted by a female vocalist/bass guitarist. It's something that Iggy Pop's Stooges may have never seen coming in the '70s, but here it is. The Noisettes make solid punk with add-ons of club beats, noize-rock contortions, jazz emotive vocals, '70s funk psychedelics, and blues-soul vibrations. The music is very creative, from Shoniwa's vocal inflections to the splits along the transitional phrases and the lobes in the guitar and rhythmic arcs. The Noisettes have crafted their own distinctive accents that are identifiable with the band from their rumpus blow-outs to their easy going blues throttles. Their fluctuations are emotive and were the catalyst for the band's debut EP The Three Moods Of The Noisettes from last year. The latest release What's The Time Mr. Wolf? builds on what they started with last year's EP.

The punk propulsions on "Don't Give Up" have sepals of fiery guitar thrusts and funk rhythms. Shoniwa's vocal execution shows wild gymnastics. There is a burlesque quality in her singing that gives the songs a stage performance vibe. It's a style she acquired early on when she trained in London's musical theatres. She parlayed those vocal skills into The Noisettes' music, giving the lyrics a lively brogue and stylistic emphasis. Simultaneously, guitarist Dan Smith was deeply influenced by his father who was a blues guitarist. At 13 years old, Smith recalls on the band's website how much he wanted to impress Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page with his playing after hearing his father's stories about jamming with Page. It became Smith's motivational force to pursue rock guitar. Drummer Jamie Morrison just always enjoyed the animalistic play of pounding on the skins. It was his form of expression and emotional release. According to his story, he spent endless hours and days playing his drum kit and cultivating his diverse rhythmic steps.

The funk-rock grooves of "Scratch Your Name" turn to a finger snapping tempo on "The Count Of Monte Christo." The acoustic guitars on "The Count" gradually pick up into bursting chord vibrations, while Shoniwa's vocal keys accentuate the notes with a likeness to vocal artisans Bjork and Grace Jones. The flustering chambers on "Sister Rosetta" have a Brit-pop hue and noize-rock sonorousness while Shoniwa's vocals rip through the dance-punk movements. "Bridge To Canada" is one of the catchiest tunes on the album with cruising rhythms. The acid/club beats on "IWE" are excited by screaming guitar contortions while the classic punk verses on "Nothing To Dread" ride intermittently between neurotic and calming verses. The soft blues tones of "Mind The Gap" are tensed up into a noize-rock rumpus with steep splits along the transitions. The soft blues-jazz number "Hierarchy" has flamingo-dolled vocal inflections along lounging beats. The concentration is on the vocal curls and timbres, crafting a youthful verve and vibrancy. The final number "I Will Never Fall In Love Again" has Dan Smith on lead vocals and Shoniwa on harmony vocals. The contrast in their registers is complementary along the lullaby chords. Shoniwa's showy vocals are somehow agreeable with Smith's casual intonations and end the album with softly shivering chords.

The Noisettes developed a very creative mix of punk on their debut album What's The Time Mr. Wolf?, taking influences from burlesque vocalists and rock guitarists like Jimmy Page. With aspects of blues, jazz, soul, and Britpop, The Noisettes have created their own brogue of punk. It's like The Stooges in its level of credibility but without sounding exactly like The Stooges.

-Susan Frances

Track Listing:
1. Don't Give Up
2. Scratch Your Name
3. The Count Of Monte Christo
4. Sister Rosetta (Capture The Spirit)
5. Bridge To Canada
6. IWE
7. Nothing To Dread
8. Mind The Gap
9. Cannot Even Break Free
10. Hierarchy
11. I Will Never Fall In Love Again (Bonus Track)

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