An impressive and expensive sounding follow up album, but is there any substance?
Every piece of press relating to Thenewno2 seems to begin by mentioning that one of their number is the son of George Harrison, a Beatle. This has about as much bearing on the quality of the music on offer here as their reluctance to hit the space bar. If we are to judge thenewno2 on their music alone, their second album offers very little development on the first, but is a sleek and futuristic sounding piece.
The album opens with Station; present day Radiohead style skitter, icy beats, intertwined with rich piano lines and glitch digital noises. A common thread throughout the album is the mixing of traditional, organic, acoustic instruments and computer generated sounds from the future. It is an interesting and unusual mix that comes off sounding somehow methodical, cold and clinical. After a slow build up, Station bursts into a lumbering beast with a bass line that would not be out of place in a Queens of the Stone Age song, and layers of noisy guitar noises that Nine Inch Nails might be caught using.
Elsewhere on the album, we see dubstep and spacey, atmospheric elements added to the formula (the indulgent, dragging Wide Awake) and elements of hip hop, demonstrated to best effect on thewaitaround, a confusing rap battle of a song, featuring none other than the RZA from Wu-Tang Clan. It does not especially fit with the rest of the album, but you have to admire their will to try some experimentation. The complete other end of the spectrum sees programmed drums underpinning acoustic guitars on Staring Out to Sea, featuring Ben Harper. This song seems to be the antithesis of the album, absolutely miles from thewaitaround.
On the negative side, there are parts of the album which seem incredibly overly self-indulgent, like the intro of Wide Awake or Hanging On. This is an album that takes patience and at times, it feels like the aforementioned clinical sound of the album hides any passion or excitement in the music, leaving just a dishwater grey, by the book run through by some serious professional musicians.
There is much to enjoy within thefearofmissingout, and if you like your music spacey and atmospheric this could be one for you. If, however, you like being down the front screaming along to rock anthems you should give this a miss.
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