vrijdag 8 september 2017
Nocturnal starts off as an alternative rock album. The overall mood is one of a band being alternative, without drawing outside of the lines one single time. As I had just finished writing my review of the Italian band Bongley Dead's latest album 'Undici', I couldn't help notice the differences. Both play alternative rock, but the differences are so huge. And all similarities mostly disappeared a little further into Nocturnal.
Nocturnal is an album with two faces - I wrote about a week ago. Listening to the album some more in the past days, I'm more of the impression that Nocturnal is the result of a band with a multiple person disorder. The last time I was so confused was after an album by the Swedish band Mando Diao. Razz delves into so many influences that this album sounds more like a Greatest Hits compilation (filled with unknown songs) than a consistent work by one band.
The question is whether this is a bad thing or not. The answer, as things often go, is somewhere in the middle. I think that if I was to ask different people to listen to this album, all would come up with different favourites. Now that will often be the case, but with Nocturnal things will be much more black and white. Simply because the starting point of many songs come from totally different backgrounds.
As I wrote, the album starts quite nice. Alternative rock, with some Britpop influence and a danceable rhythm. The Rifles come back, as does The Killers, so in its backburner many 80s hitband (from the U.K.) can be identified in opening song 'Paralysed', which certainly is one of the strong songs on the album. A great opening song. The two songs that follow mix synths into the alternative rock, but that does not change the outlook of Nocturnal. The Rifles remain my main reference point and I can live with that. Both 'Trapdoor' and 'Could Sleep' keep a fine deep end and score well.
In 'Another Heart/Another Mind' the speed leaves the album. That as such is understandable. It makes sure the album is varied and not one dimensional. Under the surface the alternative rock remains present while the music mixes triphop with a single beat in parts of the song. Until the beat is released later in the song. But I just don't find my way into this song.
Then White Lies comes by, with a prominent bass and a synth in the background. Not for the first time Simple Minds comes into my mind, but also Arctic Monkeys. The harmonies are vintage Alex Turner c.s., before we really move into dance with a rock guitar and drum with 'Step Step Step'. This song gives me the impression that the members of Razz have listened very hard to their heroes, but failed to come up with a fitting song. 'By & By' does another fine The Killers, as per its first album, song, where rock and synths are mixed again in a convincing way.
'Lecter' moves into triphop and 80s synthpop, where the band loses me again. The Rifles return again, then a dance influenced song that again shows the darker side of Razz, before it all ends with a ballad played on an electronic piano. By then I'm up the creek without a peddle.
All this may sound overly negative but it isn't. Just over half of the songs are quite alright and a few others have their moments. What I have difficulty with is getting Nocturnal as an album. It gives me the impression to be a collection of individual songs that were stuck on one silver coloured disk for convenience.
Be that as it may, this German band has produced an album that gives food for thought and that is something that cannot be said of all albums. It manages to get a person put of his/her comfort zone. So go out there and make up your own mind on Nocturnal. Assuredly you will find something to your taste(s).
You can listen to 'Paralysed' here: