When we speak of identity in the arts, in the world of pop music in particular, the very idea of mystery and intrigue is currently a very sparsely deployed one indeed. There was a time - maybe 30, 40 years ago, maybe longer - when bands were continually redefining the boundaries of popular culture whilst shielded in an impenetrable shroud of enigma. From Kraftwerk through to the more mischievous likes of KLF, there was a concept of a sense of recklessness and artistic integrity in music which gloriously persisted.
But this is not the world that NO CEREMONY/// are emerging from. Over the years the musical goalposts have been shifting irrevocably and inevitably, with the result being that the UK trio now stand out effortlessly in an endless landscape of relentlessly engineered pop acts and manufactured stadium rock. This, their eponymous debut LP, released July 15th on their own NOC/// label, is their striking response: a daring, boldly singular record that somehow pulls off the neat trick of pushing the parameters of pop music while also being brilliantly accessible, a gorgeous, haunting, and distinctive statement of intent which also happens to be filled with some of the most exquisite songs you're likely to hear in a while, with the sorts of melodies which will lodge firmly in your head for days.
The first proper single "HURTLOVE", released in May, hinted at what the threesome of James, Kelly and Victoria had in store, but with this album, the full scale and scope of their darkly enticing landscape is revealed. So here we have been gifted with an album that is pronouncedly idiosyncratic yet utterly seductive, from its invocation of New Order's nocturnal, post-rave comedown on "PARTOFME" to its rapturous appreciation of the lush pop classicism on tracks like "FEELSOLOW" and the hypnotic "WARSONGS". Then there is the pounding, emotive stomp of "HEARTBREAKER", featuring The Pixies' Joey Santiago on bruising guitar, and "AWAYFROMHERE", which, with James Vincent McMorrow on wrenching guest vocals, offers a sumptuous vision of transcendental grace. Over the span of "NO CEREMONY///", the jaw-dropping majesty of their unique vision is celebrated fully and without cliché.
NO CEREMONY/// will also be making a much anticipated live appearance at the iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse, playing with the legendary Pixies on September 25th. This will follow a series of dates with Friends as well as their own headline London show next week at the Trinity Centre - shows that are bound to compel and intrigue. Watch and listen on in wonder.
HEARTBREAKER(feat. Joey Santiago)
AWAYFROMHERE (feat. James Vincent McMorrow)
13 - Start The Bus, Bristol (w/ Friends)
14 - Arts Centre, Norwich (w/ Friends)
16 - Coalition, Brighton (w/ Friends)
17 - The Cellar, Southampton (w/ Friends)
18 - Trinity Centre
25 - iTunes Festival @ The Roundhouse, London (w/ The Pixies)
Listen to 'Feelsolow' (Gold Fields Remix) here: