Nine Black Alps

When NME recently reviewed this LP and wrote Noughties also-rans lack the attitude of their debut on begrudging new record it made me want to seek it out even more. Just one listen made me realise reviewer Barry Nicholson must have reviewed the LP “begrudgingly” – it is nothing short of brilliant! After the resurgence of the band with fourth long player “Sirens” NBA have discovered new found form and delivered possibly their best LP since “Everything Is”. The chugging guitars of opener “Blackout” accompany James’s (drums) hard hitting behind Sam’s dark, brooding vocals on this storming opener. That vocal becomes somewhat strained during the chorus but doesn’t disappoint. The middle 8 has a fantastic guitar part before that vocal returns. Simply epic!

“Clown” has a great guitar intro before Sam’s muffled vocal kicks in. It’s a personal song with a definite undercurrent! Sam’s vocals become strained as he bursts with heartfelt energy in the chorus. The ending is Jesus and Mary Chain-esque (in my humble opinion). “Come Back Around” is a return to form that has echoes of “Ironside” from Everything Is. Once again it deals with the “personal”. The chunky bass and chiming guitars just add to this classic song. “Destroy Me” opens with a drum-led intro that breaks out with a power-driven vocal and searing guitar chords. The lyrics express that of possibly a relationship experience going wrong.

“Morning After” is a Poppier offering that echoes earlier work. Those chiming guitars sit nicely alongside Sam’s softer, simple vocals. It’s personal once again but no less enjoyable! ‘Not In My Name’ returns to the power-driven style,great guitars alongside James hard hitting. Sam really screams the chorus as the band clearly aren’t ready to shake their Grungier side. This song has live favourite written all over it! “Novokaine” begins all dark and brooding, continuing in dare I say it Nirvana territory. It’s hard, it’s brooding, it grabs you by the neck and shakes you-hard! Sam screeches the lyrics like his life depends upon it. The ending is simply great, as is the entire song.

“Patti” stays in the same vein as the album just gets harder and louder. “Patti” reminds me of Senseless Things at their peak. One could be forgiven thinking it was 1993! More strained vocals and searing chords with some hard hitting that just bludgeon the senses. Brutal yet brilliant. ‘Something Else’ is next and I wonder if this LP can get any faster! It has a Punk feel with its bass-heavy intro and frenetic hitting behind those wailing guitars. The fast/slow/fast idea with the chorus is superb and works a treat yet remains unique enough to sound fresh. “Supermarket Clothes” has top 40 hit written all over it, if it were only that easy of course!

The Indie-Pop feel of the song is in stark contrast to the previous 3. The stretched guitar part works well over the pacey drumming. The vocals are clear and coherent on this Summery Indie classic. The LP ends in the mellow with “Take Me Underground” with its 60’s flowery touch. It’s a song that lets you catch your breath after the previous 11! If “Sirens” was a return to form then “Candy For The Clowns” just ‘upped the ante’. If there’s to be a 2nd wave of Grunge then NBA will be at the top table, and long may that continue. If you, the buying public only buy 1 LP this year; make it this one. “Candy For The Clowns” is quite simply stunning! ‘Noughties also-rans? Still running I’d say!!

Nine Black Alps

Track Listing
Come Back Around
Destroy Me
Morning After
Not In My Name
Something Else
Supermarket Clothes
Take Me Underground


Review by Ross A. Ferrone.

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