Hello. My name’s Jamie and I’ll be your humble narrator throughout this review of Nocturnalium by the London based indie rock quartet Arthur In Colour. Grab yourself a drink, buckle up and let’s get on with it shall we.
First off let’s meet the cast of our performance: guitarist Lewis Bremner, drummer, percussionist and backing vocalist Helen Cripps, Will Sharpe on piano, synths, organs and backing vocals (a bit of a showoff) and finally our dueling main vocalists Lizzie Owens and Arthur Sharpe who are not to be outdone by his mate Will also weighs in on guitar, synths, glockenspiel and percussion.
Apparently our friend Arthur here has also won a BAFTA award which in the United States is the equivalent of the statues of gold plated ham sandwiches that they give to artists that usually aren't very good who sell tons of records to avid listeners. But in England, where art is taken more seriously in some cases it means we are in the hands of someone who is not fucking around with our time. In fact he has scored tunes for some of my favorite British shows including the Mighty Boosh and Inbetweeners, though sadly not Luther or Peep Show, but I shall not hold that against the band in this review.
Moving on then, let’s immerse ourselves into the task at hand which is of course Nocturnalium which anyone worth their salt knows is not a real word but does in some sense mean it has something to do with nighttime given its prefix.
I certainly didn’t feel the nocturnal in the opening track “Desultory” which leans heavy on the boy-girl vocal situation and organ and synth heavy arias of Britpop. Naturally I loved it. Then they take the turn into the schizo-garage and cheap computer bits of “Lovers Digest.” Next we get the boppity “Love in an Old Peoples Home” which sounds a bit like a Pulp one off.
We move back into popular ’80s Britpop on the atmospherically waning “Cyclothymia” which when it darkens with shrilly guitars starts to show the band’s true “colours.” This flows into the American alt country twang of “A Weekend on the Bottle” which falls a bit short of what its title would suggest. Next though comes the equally twangy but much more sinister and complete “Formal Warning.” It stands in sharp contrast to the synth and organ heavy new wave wanting “Boxing Hours.”
Arthur In Colour switches scenes late in the game on the doldrum-esque, Nationa-esque downer “Chains, Straps & Rubber” and then takes a very Belle and Sebastian meets The Magnetic Fields turn into the happy-go-lucky closer “I Love You Because You’ll Do.”
The influences of bands that may have been aforementioned here are strong. A little too strong sometimes and a little too diverse in a sense. In the end Nocturnalium has its moments but it still seems steeped in influences which don’t always gel.
There is talent in the combined musicianship of this band but the album can lack focus. At some point all artists must shed a certain layer of influence and use it to create their own sound. Nocturnalium as it stands is a good record with overt influence.
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