While everyone else is crawling bumper-to-bumper along a clogged arterial motorway, desperately trying to get nowhere in particular, his psych-pop ice cream van trundles down Chorlton side streets. There's something reassuring about Jim Noir's Instagrammed world of tea, back gardens, footballs and odd characters in parks. If you're not familiar with his wares - take the observational genius of Ray Davies, dollop on some Super Furry Animals, and top with a sprinkle of Mr Scruff-y flea market beats. I don't know how to construct a metaphor for Brian Wilson's representation as a '99 flake but simply put, Jim seems to find it easy to write rich, catchy songs that transplant classic guitar pop to modern suburbia. There's not many o' them to the pound.
He's able to fund his jolly crusade thanks in no small part to snatches of older favourites like 'My Patch' or 'Eanie Meanie' cropping up on ads for pies or football tournaments. Rather that, than such a treasure be lost to Affleck's or the NCP forever. Some tracks on 'Jimmy's World' are taken from recent fanclub-only EPs, others reworkings of dormant songs waiting for the right environment to flourish.
It's churlish to ponder too long on 'progression' between releases, as I don't believe there is a particular strategy at work, other than to utilise the best tunes he has at his disposal. The differences are nuanced rather than radical or conceptual. Compared to, say, the bouncy funk of 2010's 'Zooper Dooper' EP, the mood here is akin to a prolonged daydream, where the perkiness is offset against hypnotic vocal harmonies and strange audio samples, such as on the gorgeous, bittersweet 'Sunny'. It's full of sly nods to pop history, from 'x marks the spot' setting the tone with a slowed-down 'Purple Haze' groove rendered fucking awesome by reedy recorder, right through to 'Fishes and Dishes', which is 'Riders on the Storm' as covered by Simon & Garfunkel.
The stomp of first single 'Tea' is not so much infectious as pestilent in its ability to burrow into the back of your head and remain there for days on end. The protagonist, desperate to replenish his tea bag stocks from the 'offy, is full of self-torment: 'I might get mugged, I might get beaten up / those kids are climbing up my tree'; the kind of hysterical, largely groundless fear familiar to all of us who occasionally catch a glimpse of a Mail or Express headline. These first person narratives from individuals who seem to be on the outside of the world looking in could be seen as analogous to Jim's position in the modern music industry; sometimes that outsider status brings loneliness and paranoia, other times your own world seems the most comfortable, beautiful place. He manages to frame these sketches of the everyday in surreal light or cast them into total absurdity, using the most simplistic language possible, the most notable example being the trippy, drippy folk ballad 'Under the Tree', with its 'tea (of course)/tree/she/me/we' rhyming sequence.
Other remarkable stand-outs are 'driving my escort cosworth to the cake circus', with its warped bells and squelchy disco outro, and the huge-sounding 'the cheese of jim's command', which makes this blessed art sound as exciting and important as the hadron collider.
Jim Noir's primary-coloured, super-concentrated pop nous works very well in EP form. Over a full album, I can understand that the stylised lushness of the confection on offer, while appealing, can leave one feeling a little bilious. If that's the case, you can always get up and press 'STOP'; the record is also clearly divided into two 'sides', even on this CD pressing. The first half is sociable and snappy, the second more wistful and introspective. I see this as his '...Village Green Preservation Society'; an affectionate collection where the humour and pathos go hand in hand. While there aren't many moments like 'Shooting Deer' to get me shouting and playing air drums, you could doff your cap at any of the cast of 'Jimmy's Show' and know that this is the work of a man who has mastered melody; an endangered species.
Posted: Thu 2 August 2012