No-Man returns with ‘Love You To Bits’

Categories:  Music    The Arts
Friday, November 22nd, 2019 at 11:10 AM
No-Man returns with ‘Love You To Bits’ by Rhiannon Pushchak

Once called the “most underrated band of the last 25 years” by music publication Drowned in Sound, and the “most important English group since The Smiths” by Melody Maker, dream-pop duo No-Man is back with their first release since 2008. This return is the two-track album, “Love You To Bits.”

As mentioned, the album has only two tracks, “Love You to Bits (Bits 1-5)” and “Love You to Pieces (Pieces 1-5).” The record clocks in at a little under an hour long; both parts are divided into sections that are about 20 minutes each. Each part is about five or so minutes long, with a seamless transition into the next piece. “Love You to Bits (Bits 1-5)” is full of bright and bold dance/electronica/house sounds, while “Love You to Pieces (Pieces 1-5)” has a much more sinister and menacing sound to it, possibly to symbolize the ins and outs of a relationship, whether it is meant to be a romantic one or a sexual one.

No-Man, full name, No-Man Is An Island, is the long-running collaboration between British indie musician Tim Bowness and four-time Grammy-nominated British multi-instrumentalist and producer Steven Wilson, the latter of bands such as Porcupine Tree and Blackfield. “Love You to Bits” is their first release since their last full-length album, “Schoolyard Ghosts,” which came out 11 years ago. The duo is known in the indie scene for their unique sound and ability to morph and evolve with every release.

“Love You to Bits” is completely different from their older records in that it is way more electronica-based and makes use of a lot of big bouncy beats.

One could argue that for being silent for 11 years, No-Man would have released more material; to counter that argument, one might say that the length of the record would make up for it.

Tim Bowness’ voice is absolutely gorgeous on this record. It almost sounds as though he is something of an angel coaxing someone to join him in the skies. His voice is reminiscent of Marc Almond of Soft Cell, Ian McCullogh of Echo and the Bunnymen, or even Rufus Wainwright in some places. If you’re looking for a soothing voice to fall asleep to in the best way possible, Tim Bowness’ is perfect for that. His heavenly voice carries through the whole record, most particularly in “Love You to Bits (Bit 1).”

Steven Wilson’s synth and guitar work on the album is otherworldly, as well. His intricate and complicated style of how he gets his instruments to sound the way they do is nothing short of incredible. The album opens with a dancelike, bouncy beat and with synthesizers underneath it, before smashing into a cosmic drum backbeat in the middle of the first part. It might remind one of Blaqk Audio or even Depeche Mode in some places. To add to this, Wilson adds his harmonies to the back of each track, something he is quite famous for in the underground music scene.

Steven Wilson is definitely the standout contribution to this record. An often overlooked musical genius of the past 30 years or so, he has bent genres and twisted expectations, and all around dazzled his fans, while simultaneously confusing nay-sayers with his talent.

Even during his time with Porcupine Tree, as well as with his current solo work, Wilson has been applauded by many of his colleagues in the progressive rock circuit, including such people as Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull (whom he has remastered almost all of the discography for) and Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth).

No-Man is a group that needs to be taken seriously, as their big break is long overdue. In their nearly 30-year long career, “Love You to Bits” just might be the album that gets them there. The entire record exhibits a feeling of euphoria and sexuality without coming right out and saying so. As with the rest of No-Man’s discography, there is so much feeling behind every track, and while it does harken back to other new wave, electronica, or even shoegaze at times, No-Man has a sound all their own. It’s about time they came out of the underground.

Tags: music review

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