Jim Noir is not getting noticed, although that’s not for want of trying. Sure, his success with the younger ladies is undeniable - “loVe ur mOd stYle i want a guy juSt liKe u <3” reads the MySpace comment of one enamoured capitalisation-renegade - but the Mancunian eccentric's exuberant playground charms are yet to connect with a post-pubescent audience on a larger scale, which is surprising given the effortlessly harmonious bliss-pop on offer here.
You can try too hard at contextualising the joyful electronic releases Noir has been churning out since 2004’s Eanie Meany EP, and many have (is this 'neo-psychedelia', really?); that his music makes no bones about its woozily off-kilter Sixties influences is, you could argue, inherent in its charm. So it’s a welcome relief that musically, this six-song EP continues to explore the squelchy undergrowth of 2008’s self-titled follow-up to Tower of Love, without straying too far from the cosy confines of his debut’s roots. Lyrically too, new territories are - if not conquered - resolutely poked at. Not to say this is a bad thing - Zooper Dooper sees the 28-year-old ease into a beguiling semi-fantastical world of grown-ups and funky wah-wah swish, and while occasionally he flounders in its “stormy seas”, never is his playful boyish abandon compromised.
There’s always been a clinging assumption that Noir is more complex than he wants us to think, and Zooper Dooper does plenty to suggest there’s a kernel of truth to this. For the first time in his catalogue a coherent metaphor surfaces - a typically matter-of-fact tale in which a hazard-laden relationship is condensed into one brief encounter: Noir stumbles into muse’s path, muse poses enigmatic titular question ‘Do You Like Games?’, Noir meekly offers “games are pretty neat” in repartee, and Noir observes that “She had a smile on her but that didn’t stay, And then she pushed me over then ran away”, with the bashful resignation of a fat loner who’s just had his lunch stolen.
This impression that Noir projects of himself as a child in a grown-up's skin is reiterated with ‘Car’, a “mostly true” story wherein his tires are let down and his windscreen wipers stolen by a neighbour who objects to the loud music coming from his house. Whether or not our protagonist is to blame here, his unflashy delivery wins the benefit of the doubt in flying colours. “And anyway”, he finishes with a cheeky flourish, “I haven’t even got a car - that’s not my car”. Is this post-irony? I bloody hope not.
It’d be aptly trite to crowbar in a reference to Peter Pan, so I will: in the final chapter of Peter and Wendy, Barrie cudgels our child-minds with the news that eventually, one day, Wendy, her daughter, her daughter's daughter - and indeed you and yours - will become adults. Jim Noir is another wondrous celebrator of youth's delightful naivety, but if Zooper Dooper’s anything to go by, I expect his epilogue’s some way off yet.
6Jazz Monroe's Score