Album Review: James Leonard Hewitson – Only The Noise Will Save Me

There’s a golden thread that runs through indie music stretching from at least as early as The Kinks and winding through to the Sex Pistols, Ian Dury, The Undertones, Wreckless Eric through to The Libertines, Pulp, Supergrass and more recently The Arctic Monkeys. There’s many I’ve left out in that list but I’m sure you recognise the type. Self-deprecating, snotty, articulate (at times), intelligent and often eminently danceable in a pogoing kind of way. Bouncy with a brain. A magic combination that has coalesced perfectly in the stunning new album by James Leonard Hewitson, ‘Only the Noise Will Save Me’.

I’m not familiar with Hewitson’s musical history – I am reliably informed that he has been in a number of bands that have met a relative level of success – but this album is quite frankly incredible for its cohesion, intelligence, danceability and creativity. A mature, perfectly formed indie classic that can proudly take its place in the aforementioned golden thread.

Take opening track ‘Only the Noise Will Save Me’. One listen and you can feel the excitement of something that is substantial and quickens the pulse. Stabs of horns, an exuberant, heady full steamed pace and melodies that shine and stick like a virus (too soon?):

Hewitson starts with such a joyful and expansive blast – one that leaves you heady and buoyed – that you wonder how this could be sustained across ten tracks. It is. And without a hint of hyperbole, it’s a breathtaking and, yes, exhausting ride: song after song filled with such a verve and spirit you almost need a strong cup of tea and a lie down after listening to it.

And it’s not all vacuous frivolity here either. Hewitson says of the album:

The album was written and recorded in the North East of England and depicts various mental, socioeconomic and socio-political landscapes that represent my life and feeling in this part of the world. Mental health, poor public transport, repetition, existentialism, boredom and slacker-ism take up a lot of space, as do fuzzy, distorted guitars and vocals. The album intends to give a sense of frustration and happiness all at once. It’s a privilege to make music in the first place, but you can still be quite bored in many aspects of your life.

‘Dance Track’ captures the layers of expressive observations about the mundanity of life with a ridiculously riotous cloak that careers along like a white van on the M1:

These are classic pop songs of the highest caliber, backed up by a wall of sound that snaps and crackles at pace. Hewitson’s delivery is witty, self-effacing and studied – a laconic stroll through the wilderness of his creative mind.

Hewitson can get shouty – ‘My Art Is Better Than Yours” – and slow down marginally and get relatively contemplative – ‘Special’ – but whatever the pace there’s a consistent melodic muscle and intelligence.

Hewitson is the tousled-headed blonde that Britain really needs. Noise like this will certainly contribute to saving indie rock’n’roll.

This superb album is available now through the usual download/streaming sites or here. You can catch Hewitson with a full band at the following dates:

10/03 – The Islington, London
11/03 – Wilderness Record Store, Manchester
12/03 – The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow
13/03 – Bobiks, Newcastle
14/03 – Studio, Hartlepool

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