Nocturnes, is Little Boots’ second studio album, released years after her moderately successful debut album, released in the midst of a burgeoning 90’s synth revival in Britain, and released among several other studio albums paying tribute to the aforementioned movement, each featuring female vocalists working the hardware themselves. MNDR and Amanda Warner come to mind, Robyn (who actually had a career in the 90’s,) and Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell. She’s swimming in congested waters to say the least.
Is this album groundbreaking? No, it feels like more of the same. But it doesn’t need to be earth shattering when music like this is predominately anthems for a tranced-out horde or by patios that serve $14 Mojitos. The pulsing tracks on this EP are doing their work; sending the body into a lull, the body begging the mind to create its own light spectacle within if there are no club lights to get the rush from.
Long live the studio album with a complete narrative, albums with an arc so wide and grandiose that to NOT listen to it in its entirety would be sacrilegious, albums that offer an accomplished musical journey… But we don’t need this from synth-pop, or maybe we don’t expect it. All a good synth-pop album needs to be worth the tube to the record store, or more accurately, worth the click of a mouse, is a few thudding squeal-inducing-fist-pumping dance tracks to get us out of our chairs, and enough content to hold the anthems up as we anxiously await their turn.
Nocturnes accomplishes this. There are some heavy hitters backing up Little Boots’ musical whimsy; DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy produces; Hercules and Love Affair’s Andy Butler, Bomb the Bass’ Pascal Gabriel, Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford all wrote for the album. Right out the gate we’re hit with the incredibly vibey ‘Motorway’ which feels like an electronic carpet ride through the galaxy level of Super Mario Kart. ‘Satellite’ is another track to crank; pure glitter energy, and listeners will be huge fans of the irony in lyrics like, “when I get to high, when I get to high, you’re calling, you’re calling, you’re calling, get back to earth.” It is highly probable that James Ford’s ‘Shake’ will dominate the summer’s club scene. The layered beats on this track are outstanding, and her vocals would seduce even the walliest of flowers onto the dance floor.
As a sophomore effort, I think this album shows artistic growth. Nocturnes is a pared down version of her first album Hands, yet it is able to suggest a nouveau complexity that she attributes to time spent DJing in the last few years; time spent developing her sound and identifying her own limits to push. It was time well spent. The newest additions to her catalogue display the audio trickery of an apprentice enchantress, and each are emblematic of a budding artist within.