Nine Black Alps: Sirens

Back to punk-pop basics.

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There’s something charmingly ramshackle about the home-made rock album. The fuzzy vocals that lose sync, à la Sonic Youth, and the way the drums are clearly recorded in a kitchen with the mikes kicked around by someone’s mum making tea.

It’s not certain if the fourth album from Nine Black Alps was such a DIY affair – the sleeve only says that it was self-produced “in Yorkshire” – but Sirens has that air. Which might feel like an inauspicious comeback for the UK’s great rock hopes of 2004, after previously recording glossy grunge in expensive LA studios, but it makes for a raw and honest re-dedication to the gnarly punk-pop cause after three years away pursuing solo projects and session work.

Sam Forrest and friends do use their fresh autonomy to venture into krautrock on Phosphorescence, Beatledelic balladry on Waiting Room and frat rock on What You Wanted, but generally they’re lodged within their comfort zone of chug-along Nirvana riffs with a soupçon of Kings Of Leon.

It’s a savage pop thrill-ride on Be My Girl, Hand Me Down and the Coxon-alike Don’t Forget To Breathe, but a slew of grunge-by-numbers tracks in the second act dampen the dynamic.

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.