Thursday, May 31, 2007

Napoleon Dynamite!

I’m not a musician, so I can be easily impressed when it comes to musical expertise. However, technical proficiency isn’t really the thing that I go for in music. Like visual arts, it’s not just about how well you execute it – it’s about having ideas and making things interesting and exciting. Now, with Napoleon IIIrd (aka James Mabbett from Leeds), he might be a virtuoso for all I know. But that’s not what’s important. The main thing about this dude is that he’s got good ideas, and knows (mostly) how to translate them into interesting and exciting music.

The first proper track on his new album In Debt To starts off sounding like it could be another generic post-punk record. But then come the Beach Boys style surfin’ harmonies and we’re off to another place entirely. But we sort of expected that already, given the presence of these very woozy harmonies on the meandering introductory track. Then on, throughout the album we’re treated to some of the same, but a hell of a lot of other things beside. There are plenty of ideas, genres and instruments sloshing around here. We’ve got swirly keyboards and farting synths, parps of brass, crazy drumming, programmed beats, electronica and even the odd bit of guitar. It’s all pleasingly lo-fi too, complete with false endings and general messing about. I don’t know if that’s all deliberate or not, but it makes me happy.

But it’s not just the Napoleon IIIrd sound. His wry lyrics add even more interest. It’s not often that I’ll recommend an artist for that reason, but somehow the words on this record seem to grab you. Whether it’s songs about being afraid in the city, boys in bands getting girls or a just a sweet love song to his girlfriend. When he sings “don’t live your life through the TV”, you know he’s not really preaching. He’s not a cheap sloganeering kinda guy.

And surely Hit Schmooze For Me should become an anthem for anyone stuck in a dead-end job. Actually, not even that. I quite like my job, but I can still echo Nappy’s sentiments when he sings “This is not my life, this is my day job, where I pay the rent”. So can so many others, whether they’re in bands or not. With this, surely success for Napoleon is guaranteed. Or at least making a decent living from his madcap music. It’s the very least he deserves. We need more like him.

Download: Napoleon IIIrd – Hit Schmooze For Me
Download: Napoleon IIIrd – Anti-Patria

Buy In Debt To from emusic, or pre-order an actual CD from Brainlove Records.

Catch him live too. The Napoleon IIIrd gig experience meant to be good. He even drags out an old-skool reel-to-reel tape player, apparently. All dates on the myspace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cheers for posting these - he is great live; saw him doing these when supporting Pagan Wanderer Lu. Fantastic.