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Album Review

If there was any doubt that the Noisettes were committed to the polished pop makeover they gave themselves on their breakthrough album Wild Young Hearts, the 30-piece orchestra that graces Contact's intro, "Transmission Will Start," should settle the matter. If anything, the Noisettes — now a duo of Dan Smith and Shingai Shoniwa — sound even sleeker and slicker as they hone in on the mainstream. Not that this is a bad thing; after all, they were a bit late on the garage rock tip during the What's the Time Mr. Wolf? era, and they seem more comfortable as pop magpies, grabbing any shiny sound that catches their ears and adding it to their own music. The pool of sounds they borrow from is wider than ever on Contact, and it's a testament to Shoniwa's elastic, charismatic voice that she sounds natural in every setting that is thrown at her. She's equally at home on "Travelling Light"'s ultra-traditional piano balladry, "That Girl"'s cute Motown/girl group homage, "Ragtop Car"'s country-pop, and even "Love Power"'s dubstep leanings (that wub-wub-wub bass is the hallmark of "edgy" aspirations for pop artists in the early 2010s). Despite all this casting about, Smith and Shoniwa do return to proven territory every now and then: "Winner" is Contact's version of "Don't Upset the Rhythm," and lets Shoniwa bust out some of the vocal firepower she's kept under wraps too often since the band's debut; "Free"'s smooth soul-pop makes a strong case for the Noisettes as pretenders to Morcheeba's throne, and "Star"'s sentimentality is as sweet as it is cheesy, recalling Wild Young Hearts' title track. Even as the two develop an increasingly pop approach, they do it in ways that are quirky enough to maintain their own identity. The shuffle disco of "I Want You Back" may have been abandoned years before by Goldfrapp and Rachel Stevens, but the slide guitar gives it a Noisettes twist. "Let the Music Play" (sadly not a cover of the Shannon classic, with which Shoniwa would do an amazing job) is danceable pop as opposed to dance-pop, suggesting that the duo is aiming for a more mature audience than some of their British pop contemporaries. While it's entertaining to hear them try on so many sounds, it's not always the most cohesive listening experience. Contact is certainly a showcase for all the things the Noisettes can do well, but more focus would help define them as eclectic popsters instead of fickle ones.

Customer Reviews

Instant buy - well worth it!

Never in my life have I been this excited for the release of a new album! I had taken the time to listen to all the previews and any full length songs I could find before the album was released, and I knew I could trust Noisettes to keep up the high standard and eclectic variety of music that has always drawn me to them. I kept clicking on the album button on itunes until it was released at a few minutes past midnight... Aside from my existing status as a Noisettes fan, Contact is really worth buying. 'I Want You Back' is almost certainly my favourite track, with a brilliant combination of the guitar riff that sounds like something out of the Wild West and the electronic beat that carries the chorus right the way through to the end. 'Prisoner of Love' is also a brilliant addition as a bonus track, and builds up very well with added backing vocals that give a stylish side to the driving beat of the song. Noisettes' great skill is in creating very catchy songs that build up gradually, adding more instruments and vocals to the point that the final chorus can be explosive. It is worth emphasising how amazing the vocals and the instrumentation are on this album, something they always seem to get right in my opinion.

Massive let down...

Unfortunately for some of us, this latest album has gone down and extremely commercial pop route, very electronic and 'dancey' without much imagination or creativity in the production department. It is very much in the vein of current US commercial pop, and I for one hate it. Shame, their last album was a diverse soulful brilliant set of songs. This is just cheap by the numbers predictable pop.

Yes she's back :)

Great album


Formed: London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Beginning as a ragged but energetic garage-influenced indie rock group with the ferocity of punk but with a soulful, bluesy edge and later delving into disco and unadulterated pop, the Noisettes were founded by guitarist Dan Smith and singer/bassist Shingai Shoniwa, who previously worked together in the band Sonarfly. While the pair already had a working relationship, in the spring of 2003 they began getting together to write songs, and their new project fell into place when they met drummer Jamie...
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