Say Psych: Album Review: The Nude Party – Midnight Manor

The Nude Party return with their second LP Midnight Manor out on Friday via New West Records. The 12-song set was recorded live-to-tape over six days at the Outlier Inn in upstate New York and mixed by John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile). Midnight Manor is the follow up to their critically acclaimed self-titled debut which Rolling Stone heralded as “equal parts ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’ Velvet Underground and Exile on Main Street Stones.” Their debut found the band hitting stages across the globe, appearing at massive festivals like Lollapalooza, All Points East, Splendour In The Grass, Great Escape, Newport Folk Festival, and Bonnaroo where many publications named them one of the best of the festival. They also supported major artists like Jack White and the Arctic Monkeys—both of whom became full-blown fans and vocal supporters of the band.

The Nude Party formed while the members were students at North Carolina’s Appalachian State University. After honing their chops through incessant practice at their communal band house, they relocated to a property tucked away deep in the Catskills where they have lived and labored (literally—they earn their keep gardening, tending to animals and doing all manner of general groundskeeping) for the past several years. And it’s where they worked up the songs that populate and inspire the title of the new Midnight Manor and where the ‘Shine Your Light’ video was shot.

Like most young bands suddenly thrust into a relentless touring schedule, in the two years since the release of their debut, the Nude Party experienced their fair share of stress, pressure, internal dynamics and personal turmoil. They had no creative outlet for all of it until they finally got down to writing again, which was a release of that built-up tension. Several members went through serious breakups during the album’s creation as well. The experience eventually brought the band closer together and the songs reflect that process. Frontman Patton Magee says, “If I had to think about a long-term goal for this band, it would be to just exist, and exist in a purposeful way.” He continues, “And in 10, 20 years? I want to be onstage and still be surrounded by my friends. So we’ll just continue to do what we know how to do, and what we love to do. I know that’s easier said than done”—to quote the title of a rollicking, raucous Midnight Manor track— “but that’s what’s important to us.”  

Opening with ‘Lonely Heather’, a catchy piano ditty starts us off and descends into something Queen would be proud off before ‘Pardon Me, Satan’ returns more to the sound we have come to know and love them for; lazy vocals with country and western psychedelic vibes swirling around and coupled with ‘Cure Is You’ they make a swooning combination that channels hints of Psychic Ills, yet remains all their own. ‘Easier Said Than Done’ and ‘Shine Your Light’ once more make a dynamic duo of psychedelic leanings and catchy countenances that make you want to dance round the room. ‘What’s the Deal?’ is the standout of the album with a real groovy vibe that sees you want to jump up and dance around the room, wherever you happen to be. ‘Cities’ and ‘Thirsty Drinking Blues’ nod to some of the great blues tunes of old, tackling real life issue that everyone can relate too. ‘Time Moves’ is the love song of the album, with a beautiful vocal swoon that deserves repeated listens. ‘Judith’ is once more very Queen in its influences, which is never a bad thing and ‘Things Fall Apart’ is a real tear jerker, just listen to those lyrics. Concluding with ‘Nashville Record.Co’, an evocative number about the record industry.

Midnight Manor is less psych, and more rock and roll, increasing its appeal. Whilst it doesn’t have the real catchy ones like its predecessor that sees people singing along at the shows, as an overall offering it is stronger, with every track offering something to someone.

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