Manchester’s own Nine Black Alps have been an essential part of the British rock scene over of the last 10 years. With four solid albums under their belts and number five incoming, this Northern quartet has been a welcome guest at many of the UK’s premier festivals such as Reading/Leeds, T In The Park and Glastonbury. ‘Candy For The Clowns’ is the band’s latest offering and proof that they’re still alive and kicking.
Opening with the full throttle of ‘Novokaine’, the album collides with your ear drums like a freight train carrying tanks, neutron stars and some other heavy shit, and maintains that damning momentum for the majority of the album. Though things tail off towards the end with some of the more mellow numbers, like ‘Morning After’, even they’re enjoyable to listen to.
‘Candy For The Clowns’ is like an audio tour through the museum of recent rock music. It dabbles in various different genres that have come and passed over the last 30 years, and draws influence from them to the point where they’re almost a homage. Tracks such as ‘Supermarket Clothes’ and ‘Not In My Name’ have a ballsy punk rock, fuck you vibe similar to that of The Ramones. Then you have the post-grunge, Cobain-esque croons on ‘Patti’, ‘Come Back Around’ and ‘Something Else’, that sound like a mash-up of Nirvana and Blur‘s distortion soaked anthems.
While ‘Candy For The Clowns’ is a great record, it’s not quite a must listen. It demonstrates that they’re active, producing good quality, enjoyable music whilst still being relevant in today’s rock world. For your everyday rock fan, however, ‘Candy For The Clowns’ offers a handful of really good songs (‘Something Else’ and ‘Novokaine’), but it also throws a fair bit of filler at you too. It’s essentially 35 minutes of post-grunge with a hit-or-miss ratio of about 2:3.
Written by Andy Roberts