Pop has an unlikely saviour. Amidst the day-glo city of echoes and Happy Monday tribute acts one man has risen to put the emphasis back on substance over style. That mans name is Napoleon IIIrd, and this is his call to arms.
Napoleon IIIrd, or Nappy to his friends, has made a name for himself on the toilet circuit supporting acts such as Wheatus (!), Hot Chip and ¡Forward, Russia! among others, and his contributions to the Dance To The Radio and Brainlove labels have further cemented his reputation as one of the countries most underrated songwriters.
Even those familiar with his live shows and previous EPs will be surprised, when listening to In Debt To…, to realise how many top-quality hits he has managed to amass. From the joyous acoustic Britpop of single 'This Is My Call To Arms' to the ramshackle Merseybeat-esque 'Guys In Bands' through to penultimate track 'My Superiority Complex’’s downbeat class of military drums and brass, there are so many standout tracks that picking a favourite becomes a migraine-inducing prospect.
Which brings me to my main criticism of the album; although it might not seem like much of a criticism at first, it regards something that just manages to pull the album down from a nine to an eight. You see, as a songwriter Napoleon IIIrd is the equivalent of Mike Tyson, but on In Debt To... he tries to be Mohammed Ali. No, I don't mean he tries to be a serial divorcer over a wife-beater, but that his repertoire consists of one-hit knockouts, which here lose impact due to (largely unsuccessful) attempts to blend them into a singular piece. The strongest example of this is the segue between 'Defibrillator' and 'The Conformist Takes The Stand' which leaves the latter track, an absolute anthem on its own, feeling a little flat on entry.
Overall, though, flat is something that In Debt To… is far from. It is brimming with brilliant ideas and held together by consistent songwriting not common in this age. What Larrikin Love, Mystery Jets and others could only do on a couple of repetitively-released songs Napoleon IIIrd has managed throughout the majority of an album; he’s revived the classic, quirky, British pop spirit that has been dead, or at least dormant, for the past decade. Bless him.
8Jordan Dowling's Score