Review of Volume 1 Album by BNQT

When I first saw BNQT, I wondered if it was a hitherto-unknown acronym for an ethnic group or a sexual orientation. Then I learned it's pronounced 'Banquet', missing out the vowels, like in text lingo or like New Zealanders when they speak. I finally learned that BNQT is the supergroup, curated by Eric Pulido of Midlake, with an array of collaborative vocalists: Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), Fran Healy (Travis), Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand), Jason Lytle (Grandaddy) and Pulido himself, underpinned by three of Pulido's Midlake footsoldiers on drums, guitar and keyboards.

BNQT Volume 1 Album

Applying the prefix 'super' usually elevates the ordinary to the unparalleled, like the Super Bowl, Super Mario, Super Furry Animals and Su Perkins. Alas, there are times when its annexation of a perfectly pleasant phrase makes 'super' a notable impostor - like Super Noodles (disappointing), supermarket (characterless/homogenous) and supergroup (dubious). What is a supergroup but a dalliance, a dabble, d*cking about with different dudes - a refreshing no-strings indulgence? Then when your leader calls the ensemble a 'poor man's Travelling Wilburys', he's not helping matters, especially when you question how 'super' the band is that underpins the whole project in the first place.

Musically, it's a modest, mid-tempo 70s rock retrospective, registering somewhere between 'generic' and 'flaccid' on the 'Not This Again' scale. We get Status Quo on "LA On My Mind", ELO-sounding strings all over the place, and some slow John-Lennon-solo-stylee piano. On more than one occasion, we feel like we're in the less dynamic songs from Jeff Wayne's "War of the Worlds", like on "100 Million Miles" and "Fighting the World". There's more than a hint of the Sweet's "Blockbuster" on "Restart" and we find Kapranos negotiating sternly with troublesome fruit on the Baroque Pop/Doorsy, "Hey Banana". "Real Love" is the closest they get to sounding like the Travelling Wilburys; all five vocalists contribute to a pleasant plash, underpinned by a stirring trumpet fanfare. But will anyone playing away from their actual band ever surrender their toppermost songs for a side project?

If they're sticking around, we need to rebadge this squad, ditch the BNQT moniker and tell it like it is. In terms of equivalent culinary terms, BFFT ('buffet') or possibly RDYSTDYCK ('Ready, Steady, Cook') would reflect the haphazard ingredients rustled up in "Volume 1". John Grant is booked in for "Volume 2", though. We LVE in HPE.

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