If Sea Wolf was Portuguese and liked mechanical toys.
One of the quiet stars of melancholic folk-rock that I’ve discovered over the past few years is noiserv. Noiserv hails from Portugal and often sings in English as well as his native tongue. For his latest album ‘Uma Palavra Começada Por N’ he turns entirely to that tongue for another quickfire mesh of folk-rock, mechanical toy sounds and beautifully layered ambience.
So much of what makes noiserv so great is shared in the musical DNA of fellow folk-rock artist Sea Wolf. Both have a rich voice that sounds both wise and weary. They both weave earworms with their acoustic guitar in a way that feels so simple and pure and yet feels heavy with emotion too. Noiserv comes with the added twist that he has a penchant for adding in lots of tuned percussion and mechanical clicks and rustles with his sound palette too and it is this that separates them out.
‘Eram 27 metros de salto’ is a surefire acoustic rock hit with catchy guitar riffs and vocal lines throbbing along at pace. On the flipside, ‘Mas’ and ‘Parou’ have no problem in swimming in hazy music boxes, internal mechanical noises and washy synths either. Noiserv’s ability to add gravitas and emotion to songs that rarely last longer than three minutes is razor-sharp. He hits the impact quickly and moves on from mood to mood keeping the album inflow and ever changing. That allows him to playfully indulge in The Go Team! esque ‘Meio’ which is full of psychedelic childhood sounds on one hand, then going full Castlevania gothic with quirky piano ballad ‘Picotado’. Don’t fancy those? ‘Neutro’ plays with angelic tuned percussion and introspective drums to create a chillout folk piece instead or you can go into the downtempo rock of ‘Sem Tempo’ instead. There is so much on offer in just 32 minutes of music.
This might feel a bit light to some people but I find that because all of norserv’s music contains really catchy moments that repeat around in your head, its brevity means that these tracks never become stale. Instead, much like a lot of Mitski’s recent work, their brevity is a badge of honour. You’ll have this album on repeat and it’ll leave you craving more.
For those who are perhaps afraid or not used to listening to non-English folk-rock, I’d recommend noiserv as a great beginners place with. He has a range of English and Portuguese albums to choose from and the melodies are so strong, you’ll be along for the ride regardless. This is another mighty fine entry into his catalogue. Put simply, noiserv is one of the most underrated musicians out there today.
Recommended track: Eram 27 metros de salto
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