A Vivoscene Feature Review by Brian Miller
Vivoscene rating 9.7
It’s not too soon to say that 2012 will be remembered for thefearofmissingout, the second album by thenewno2 (the new number two), a collaboration between Dhani Harrison and Paul Hicks, the former being the son of George Harrison and the latter being a noted experimental music producer. It’s a remarkable record, as filled with soundscapes, samples, and buzzed-out song constructions as it is replete with several guests of distinction, notably Holly Marilyn, Ben Harper, Thorunn Antonia (the ravishing lead singer from the Anglo-Icelandic group Fields) and RZA and The Black Knights.
Dhani Harrison demonstrates songwriting chops, melodic invention and some terrific singing throughout the album. He’s been quoted as saying that the album title framed the concept behind the songs, but there’s much more going on here than melodies put to lyrics about “the fear of missing out”. That’s where Paul Hicks, producer extraordinaire, comes in. The album delivers such a compelling visceral impact through his manipulation of drum sounds (fierce drumming on the opening number “Station”), echoes, phasings, and sampling that this record qualifies as a sonic masterpiece. This is only nominally a recording of rock music. We’re in territory conceived of, but not explored by, groups such as Radiohead and independent alternative electrobands. It’s also a major advance from You Are Here, the 2008 debut album by thenewno2. One listen to “Wide Awake” will convince even the most jaded muso that something highly charged and forward-thinking has happened with the release of this record. The paranoia and anxiety behind “Timezone”, and “I Won’t Go” for example, are palpable, but the melodic pleasure derived from the great tunes and wonderful singing belies the lyrical content. The layering of sounds and meaning are complex, mysterious and engaging, the execution of which has rarely been realized in electronica to date.
You can stream the entire album The Fear Of Missing Out here:
Key tracks: “Looking Beyond” with its glorious build and sonic intensity, “Staring Out To Sea”, which features the vocals of Ben Harper and Thorunn Antonia, the somewhat Beatlesesque “Make It Home”, and the hypnotic closing track “The Number”, again with background vocals by Thorunn Antonia. We’re on the fence about “thewaitaround”, which seems like the requisite nod to hip-hop, rap, and the like, but it is well done; it’s just not up to the superior grade displayed with the rest of the album. That’s a minor quibble in a production we feel will set the standard for future explorations in electro-rock.
One great record, and our leading candidate so far for Album Of The Year.
Watch: The Fear Of Missing Out album preview