Sound Bites

Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jim Noir, "Jim Noir" ★★★

Jim Noir is the Manchester, England, pop whiz with a "Pet Sounds" predilection first heard from in 2006 when his delightfully infectious "Eeny Meanie" ("If you don't give my football back, I'm gonna get my dad on you") was used in an Adidas commercial that was in heavy rotation during World Cup telecasts. Jim Noir picks up where his "Tower of Love" debut left off, spinning a shimmering psychedelic web of multitracked harmonies and inviting melodies with a winningly light touch. His last name notwithstanding, "Noir" is a sunny, summery sort, musically speaking, and bubbly songs like the quotidian "Day by Day by Day," bear the influence of the Kinks without attaining Ray Davies' wistful weightiness. It sure is catchy, though.

Moby, "Last Night" ★★★ ½

The Beat Generation '50s, the psychedelic '60s - if you haven't lived them, you can't understand them, right? That's the sort of thing kids hear from elders trying to justify everything from hearing to memory loss. With that logic, young'uns wouldn't know much about Manhattan club music throughout the '80s either. So heaven love Moby for handing the swish and slam of Hi NRG, electro, diva dramatics and rave rhythms to those who missed out the first time.

That Moby did it with equal amounts of streaky cheesiness (those strings) and epic grandeur shows he spent as much time in Limelight as he did daylight. From the Taylor Dane-inspired vocals of "Disco Lies" to the jovial piano run of "Everyday It's 1989" and the glamorous halt of "Ooh Yeah," Last Night is a speedy history lesson on an era. But it's a fresh sound that Moby's purveying, never retro.

Moby may have left "Night's" powerhouse theatrics to a handful of stewing crooners (Luci Gordon, Ms. Sylvia Butler) and its amped pulse to drum machines. But the dawn's early quiet of "Lucy Vida" and its ambient hush sounds solely like vintage Moby. Tell your grandkids about that.

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