The Noisettes: Wild Young Hearts

In an age where people equate melisma with talent, Shingai Shoniwa is a godsend. Of course, she’d be a godsend at any point in time, but she’s particularly welcome now. The lead singer for the UK indie rock group the Noisettes is a force of nature, but she’s no showoff; she does what’s best for the song (a lost art, to be sure), and the batch of songs she and her bandmates have brewed up for Wild Young Hearts, the band’s sophomore effort, are exceptional. (“Saturday Night Live” will surely come a-calling soon.) The label is shrewdly playing the Amy Winehouse card by releasing the Motown-ish “Never Forget You” as the first single – and that’s a good call, as it’s one of the album’s finest moments – but don’t write the Noisettes off as Back to Black imitators. They’re a guitar-driven pop band at their core, as the title track and “Beat of My Heart” will attest, but if we’re being honest, the ballads rule the roost. “24 Hours” is a wistful tale about a very recent fling, “Every Now and Then” has one of those unforgettable descending chord sequences in the chorus, and the Bacharach-cribbing album closer “Cheap Kicks” is an instant classic. All bands should be blessed to have a singer with the versatility that Shoniwa shows here. (Mercury 2009)

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