When I first put on the pre-stream of Midnight Manor, the second album from The Nude Party, I’d just got home from a long day back in the office after seemingly having never left my house for the last six months. Just as I wondered what I was going to cook for dinner having forgotten to go to the shops on the way home to buy food, the opening keys of “Lonely Heather” rung out. I was wrecked and bloody hungry. But I’ll tell you what, if there’s one way to get you in the mood for cooking a last ditch meal, there’s nothing like a blues ridden hoedown that will do it. “Lonely Heather” worked an absolute treat for me and if I were a betting man, I reckon it would work wonders for you.
Returning only two years after their much loved self titled, the North Carolina six piece are back with twelve tracks of mostly great times, with just a few hints of sadness, longing and regret.
What The Nude Party have managed to do in the past couple years is nothing to sneeze at. From landing support slots with Jack White and being crowned Alex Turner‘s favourite band, the band has gone from strength to strength. All while not losing the essence of what they have managed to distill in their music. This is exemplified through “What’s The Deal”, four minutes of twanged out guitars and spiritual organs all underwritten with the sombre realisation that we’ll all grow old and die one day.
The Nude Party are the type of band, who know they’ve managed to do something right based off the love they receive from the industry, but truly can’t work it out; like it’s all some big practical joke that they’re waiting on the punch line for. And yet, they still go about releasing fun songs not caring about what comes next. They could crash and burn or continue in their current stride. It really doesn’t bother them at all.
The rollicking “Pardon Me, Satan” has a genuine The Rolling Stones vs Willie Nelson vibe to it; kicking into gear as it does over the closing chorus, with the bass really coming to the forefront. “Thirsty Drinking Blues” is a song for the lonely, as front man Patton Magee laments having to drink alone instead of being with the one he really wants to drink with. It’s here you realise the blood, sweat, tears and beers the members have poured into their time as a band.
Working on the farm of their producer leading into their debut album and now Midnight Manor, the sounds of the album ooze through with the bands’ lived experience and make them all that bit even more likeable. Album closer “Nashville Record Company” is a tongue-in-cheek take down of the industry they find themselves to be in, as Magee laments being taken for a ride by the record company they signed with as 22 year olds.
While The Nude Party have definitely developed into a party band, there’s a level of maturity in Midnight Manor that shows a side of an act that has every chance of becoming one of the all time alt-country greats. Sure, their sound is better suited to a time from long ago (“Things Fall Apart” is an unrivalled masterpiece on the album), but that doesn’t make what they’re doing any less revolutionary.
The Nude Party are a fun band that makes fun music. There’s nothing more or less to it. Listen to them at the best of times or the worst of times, in the morning or even after a long day in the office as you struggle piecing together a terrible dinner. It really doesn’t matter the scenario, it’s always going to be a good time when The Nude Party soundtrack it.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Header Image by Bryan Derballa.