No Ripcord Album Review - Noonday Underground - "Surface Noise"
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Noonday Underground
"Surface Noise" (Setanta Records)

A few years ago, Paul Weller declared The Noonday Underground "the most influential band of all-time". Was he joking? Well, I'm not sure - you'd have to ask him for yourselves - but as he contributes vocals to two of Surface Noise's 14 tracks, I think it's fair to assume that at the very least, he is a fan. But just because some washed up mod (only joking of course...) approves, it doesn't mean you should rush out and buy their entire back catalogue. At least read the review first...

So what do The Noonday Underground sound like? It's a very good question actually. Essentially the work of ex-Adventures In Stereo man Simon Dine and soulful female vocalist Daisy Martey, Surface Noise sounds like the product of two people with enormous record collections. But while samples do make up the lion's share of this album, they are still used carefully. No one track ever seems cluttered, and while the production is certainly competent, there is a slight (and presumably intentional) lo-fi feel to the proceedings. Vocally, every contributor turns in a good performance, and a particular surprise is Paul Weller who as far as I can remember, has never sounded this good.

So what prevents Surface Noise from really succeeding as an album? A lack of memorable tunes is certainly one glaring problem. Another is the pacing and distinct lack of variety. Despite the rampant microphone swapping, very little really changes from one song to the next. I'm all for albums gelling together as one piece but when nothing really changes, as is the case here, it becomes like listening to one 35 minute track. And who wants to do that? In Surface Noise Noonday Underground have provided us with 14 tracks that ooze competence. None of them however, possess the necessary edge to stand out. 6/10

Reviewed By David Coleman
14th of September 2002

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