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STEREO EMBERS PREMIER – “Come and Join the Beautiful Army” EP from The Noise Who Runs feat. Ian Pickering of Sneaker Pimps Fame

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This rock’n’roll alternative new wave old wave in-between wave call-it-what-you-will business attracts all types, the hustler, the lifer, the dreamer, the flash-in-the-pan flame-out, the freak the recluse the entitled asshole and one could go on for a paragraph or two which is to say the list is long and yet pretty much useless as most of the types I’ve just typed on to the monitor screen are defined by an ephemerality that makes both mockery and quick work of the word ‘artist’ not to mention ‘career.’ But then there are the resilient, those with the chops the wherewithal the sheer shrewdness of character and talent that in turn makes for a level of self-adaptability that would make an evolutionary psychologist blush with pride. Ladies and gentlemen and the gender-fluid, faithful readers and reckless skimmers, allow me to introduce a man that should need no introduction but, knowing how these things usually play out, likely does (don’t even let me digress on the topic of what the pecking order of popularity should be were it based on talent), Ian Pickering, Hartlepool-born and currently, with Felipe Goes of Ian’s current home Lille, France, the driving engine behind the ingenious, wonderfully-named The Noise Who Runs. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Pickering you may actually be more familiar than you think if you were even mildly engaged in so-called ‘alternative’ music in the mid-90s/early aughts as Ian was a core member and primary lyricist for the above-mentioned, seriously sinuous popsters Sneaker Pimps. It’s a connecction that’s both aesthetically relevant to the project currently under discussion and not-so-much. 

Launched in 2019 soon after Pickering’s move to France, The Noise Who Runs chose the not unwise path of allowing their collaboration to gestate for a few years, a decision that, one, led to their first EP High Time in Lo-Fi not seeing the twisted light of the day until March of 2022 and, two, ensured that their debut exposure to the world would be of equal quality to the curiosity-arousing power of that band name. Having established that with seeming preternatural ease (check this for confirmation) the pair barreled into 2023 as if running downhill with the wind at their back, dropping tracks every few weeks prior to the arrival of one of the year’s best full-lengths Preteretrospective in late April of last year then seemingly turning around and immediately gearing up for what we have before us today.

Come and Join the Beautiful Army, released this Friday January 12th and available on all your standard platforms, is a 5-track outing that takes that singular angular-fluid style carved out over those busy last couple of years and elevates it a point that it not only just brims with confidence but does so with an even more accomplished sui generis flair. You’ve got your electro-industrial pulse of “One Scratch Each,” by turns whimsical and a bit wicked that could conceivably leaked out of Pickering’s mind from his time writing lyrics for Front Line Assembly; “Tune Out, Turn Off, Drop In,” a trip-hop popazoid winner of a tune that is likely the first time the ghost of prime Donovan has been nestled into the bosom of Massive Attack while they’re traipsing through an uncharacteristically buoyant mood, which is a most suitable run-up to the ‘Tricky gets all sunny and snappy’ groove of “Something in the Bones of Men” and yes indeed, you are correct dear astute reader it is a sure-fire chart-topper if only said charts had any goddamned taste. Then there’s “Vengeance is the Sweetener,” deeply soulful in a deeply groove-tastic way with a beat so plump it makes the word ‘phat’ seem Twiggy thin and then comes “Mars Attached,” simultaneously the EP’s most avant and most vulnerable track – not to mention too clever by just the right half – that finds Pickering and Goes riding off into a complicated sunset of their own making, making for as fine an exit as would be expected from this lot.

But hey, don’t believe us, believe your own ears and sense of brilliant irony by clicking on that first little arrow below before navigating your way without delay to Spotify, Apple Music or Bandcamp to secure your own copy of this iconoclastic mini-classic. We know you need it, and now you do too. [band photo: Élodie Dahoo]