To get a feel for Noisettes, you have to start by watching frontwoman Shingai Soniwa’s electrifying performance in their music video for “Scratch Your Name.” This is classic case of a lead vocalist taking an act from good to great.
I saw them play a small Brooklyn night club a few summers ago. The show unexpectedly got combined with Battles at the last minute. (This was right around the time Mirrored came out, one of my favorite albums in the last 5 years.) The energy was unreal throughout the night. Since then, they’ve have toured with Bloc Party, TV on the Radio, and Muse.
While their sound is not “revolutionary” per se, Noisettes doesn’t particularly sound like anyone else. It would be a disservice to compare them to the decidedly darker and grimier Yeah Yeah Yeahs (though Shingai does list Karen O as an influence).
When Janelle Monae came out last year, I immediately thought “hey, she’s ripping off Shingai’s look,” (although she’s equal part Andre 3000). Musically, though, Janelle is a solid Motown-era soul singer while Shingai is an epic, class-of-her-own, wouldn’t-want-to-challenge-her-to-a-thumb-wrestling-match rock vocalist. Her signature is when her voice squeaks in just the right place at exactly the right time. You have to hear it to understand.
“Don’t Upset The Rhythm,” the second single from their yet-to-be-released sophomore album, has reached #2 on the UK Singles chart after being featured in a Mazda commercial. This track, along with the other single released from their upcoming sophomore album, ironically seem to indicate a directional shift for Noisettes towards a more processed, dance-y, Janelle Monae-esque sound. Guess indie rock wasn’t paying the bills. I will reserve judgment, however, until the new album drops.
Wild Young Hearts comes out April 20th on Universal.