Bodyface are an intriguing outfit. The New York alt-rock trio have released their sophomore album today, No, based on the thought that, “we are living in an age of negativity and No is a product of its times. Art, media, politics and popular culture demand little to NO thought on the part of the citizen. People’s lives are not defined by what they are told NOT to do. To this we say, NO”.
From this brief, it would seem that No is a statement album, about thinking differently into one of the biggest, most varied, and general genres there currently is, and in that respect it certainly does what it says on the tin. Bodyface’s sound is one that’s not easy to compare to other artists – mostly because it varies so much. It’s a vague and blanket rule, but the majority of musicians spend their first album finding their “sound” (if they haven’t already), and their second improving it.
With No, there are all the nervous interchangeable sounds of a debut, but with a production quality (mastered by Tommy Uzo – Wu-Tang Clan, Field Mob, Michael Jackson) well above that. Put two and two together and you can pretty easily come to the conclusion that the album is put together to be one that stands out. Call me old fashioned or closed minded, but I liked it when all the tracks on the record sounded like they’d been written by the same artist.
Listen to the eclecticism in opening The Razor, and you’ll have a fair grip on how the rest of the album pans out – several seconds of humble beginnings that could delve into anything, a blast of riffs, a touch of spoken word and then the track kicks into flipping between almost harsh vocals and eerily smooth ones. If this description sounds like a recipe, well, that’s the intention; it feels like they wanted to blend a variety of elements together and that’s what they’ve done, just without the fluidity that the term “blend” might suggest.
As the title somewhat suggests, there’s a somewhat helpless, emo feel to third I Suck, like a watered down and ironically childish The Front Bottoms track, a sharp contrast to seventh It’s Hard To Be Yourself (When No One Likes You). Despite the Fall Out Boy-approved title, this two minute episode is the rough and tumble of punk, with all the enthusiasm of teenage angst, a sound I’d have loved to have seen developed more.
Several part-acoustic numbers mark out another cornerstone in this bizarre collection, with an understated vibe of Nirvana’s On A Plain running through fifth Operator, whilst other are left to build up at their own unsteady pace.
If you’re a fan of your alt-rock to do the unexpected and change in all the tracks, covering what feels like every possible variation on the genre, then Bodyface’s No is for you. However, to me it feels somewhat disorganised, and quirky for the sake of being quirky – which somewhat deducts its quirkiness. In the timeless words of Simon Cowell, it’s a no from me.