Nicarus – Coal People Coal Puppets

Rating: 3/5
Distributor/label: Self-released.
Released: 2021
Band Website: https://talising.wixsite.com/nicarus

Band line-up:
Tali Green
Guitars, bass, vocals, mix & production.
Tracklisting:

1. We Can See Their Lies
2. Are You Afraid To Die Alone
3. Coal People Coal Puppets
4. The Architect of Grime
5.  With Storms We Thrive
6. The Stuff You Pack When You Are A Time Traveller

Review:

Nicarus hails from Israel, where rock music has been on the downwards slope for the last twenty-some years, and has emerged with her own take on the genre. After the release of her debut EP, Holy Sun Father Spirit, Nicarus is back once again with another take on her own style of rock, which mingles and bumps shoulders with gloomy alt-rock and elements of dark alt-pop. Coal People Coal Puppets is Nicarus’ self-released, self-produced album coming 8th January 2021.

‘We Can See Their Lies’ starts as a lullaby before kicking into some heavy guitar work, taking me back to some fun 90’s grungy rock. It’s interesting to take a song in this direction, with hints of a keyboard running in the background. It’s a lovely introduction to what I hope will be an album of a similar, nostalgic ilk. Moving on to ‘Are You Afraid to Die Alone,’ this song has a very classic grunge introduction, with the plucking of a somber guitar. There is a little more oomph to this track, but it fades into excessive repetition with no ups or downs to keep me interested. At 6 minutes long I would expect something to keep me listening, but unfortunately, there isn’t, it’s just a little too monotonous.

‘Coal People Coal Puppets,’ the title track for this record, begins with the thrumming of grunge sounding guitar and drum ensemble. When Nicarus’ vocals finally enter the track, which is a whopping 60 seconds in, we finally hear what she has to say. It’s ethereal and heavy on effects, very atmospheric, but I find there is no beginning and end to this track. It starts as though you have turned the volume up halfway through a song and faded it out before it has finished. For a 9-minute track, that’s right, 9 minutes, nothing is really achieved from what I can hear, not even a chorus can be dissected from the medley of gloom, it’s just the same repetitive sound over and over. Don’t get me wrong, this may be someone’s cup of tea, but for me, there needs to be a little more peak and trough. Towards the end of the track, there is finally a break, and a sound clip plays, which, if I’m being totally honest, is the most interesting part of this track.

‘The Architect of Grime’ begins very similar to track 01 but has slight elements of the likes of ‘The Bangles.’ the similarity ends there, however, as once more it falls into the same hole that Nicarus had dug in the first track. Another sound bite separates the track, and I am beginning to see a pattern emerging. The strangest thing I find about this track, is not only the fact that it once more runs to 9 minutes long but ‘Architect of Grime’ can easily be separated into 3 sections and each section is a completely different song, there needs to be a bit more blending as I am struggling to see the correlation between the parts, the story is disjointed but the elements are there.

‘With Storms We Thrive’ is one of the more polished tracks on this record. It has vocals that are clear, and it has a beat I can get behind. If you gave me this track and told me it was from the late 80’s/early ’90s, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid, as it fits that period perfectly. The run time for this track is 5 minutes, which is still a bit lengthy for the style of music, but I feel it will sit a lot more comfortably with listeners than the 9-minute renditions, there is much more of an insight into what this is all about here and it is much more tangible and with the injection of nostalgia it is much more palatable.

‘The Stuff You Pack When You Are A Time Traveller,’ is the final track on Coal People Coal Puppets and is described as a slow and lumbering number, which if I’m not mistaken, every track so far has been. It is a musical representation of Apollo 11’s mission into space. There is the usual sound sample mixed in-between the track, but honestly, this track is 1000 light-years ahead of the rest of the tracks on this album. It has delightful vocals, a melancholy and dream-like dance through the instruments, and is an actual delight to listen to. Ending the record on this track was a good move, it picks us up from an otherwise gloomy experience. Even though I imagine someone crying in a spaceship as it drifts towards the nightmarish voids of space, it is presented beautifully and finally showcases fully what Nicarus can do.

As mentioned earlier, the album is self-produced and self-released, which if I’m being honest, shows through, but that’s not to say it isn’t worth a listen. It is absolutely a niche style of album, but for some, it will be exactly what they are looking for, and with the final track of the album sounding so good, I can only hope Nicarus proceeds in the direction of that song.

Review by Rebecca Bush

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