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Port Noir – The New Routine

Port Noir
The New Routine
by Jack Lynch at 04 June 2019, 6:02 AM

Metal can be inclusive and by that, I mean there are rules.  Like a set of directions that accompany your IKEA furniture, there may not be defined words, but there are set of wonky interpretative guidelines. What gets put together in the end is usually a mix mash of one’s level of craftmanship and influence but be sure to tread lightly if you use anything outside the oddly shaped pre-packaged nuts and bolts.  Take PORT NOIR for example and their brazen fusion of hip-hop, pop, synth, and rock on their newest release The New Routine. The Swedish trio wear the perennial staples of these sub-genres on their sleeve with confidence, giving no apology as they carve out their own niche and build something that works more often than it doesn’t.

What any haughty metalhead would think from hearing the single “Young Bloods”, is that there is a gimmick taking place. The clearly RAGE inspired guitar riffs padded between “hip-pop” vocals will leave one eye cocked as you slowly turn the volume up to understand what you are hearing. Is this some new age poll dancing song ghost written by KID ROCK, or is THE WEEKND pissed off at someone? Either way, you’ll listen the whole way through. It’s that spring of curiosity the band hopes to invoke in their listeners. A kind of “box of chocolates” within each song. This inquisitiveness, along with solid song writing, is one of the bands strongest attributes. And the track “Young Bloods” is the band at their strongest. Elegantly parceling together hooky lyrics, chainsaw guitars, and drumbeats in refreshing fashion.

Is PORT NOIR “prog pop”? Not necessarily, and we all could spend valuable time talking about what facets of hard rock the band pulls from to create their sound. Sure, there are heavier nu-metal riffs that envelope songs like “Young Bloods”, “13”, and “Drive”.  There is some sporadic “de la Rocha” lyrical juggling on “Define Us” and “Flawless”, but that’s pretty much where the comparisons end, and alt rock takes over.  What PORT NOIR really have going for themselves is a strong uncluttered approach to alternative rock that leaves room for experimentation. Their simplistic musical structure allows for the playful use of electronic beats. There is plenty of guitar work akin to AUDIOSLAVE, however almost every song utilizes synthesizers in some way, perhaps most prominent on “Low Lights”, a downtempo electronic infused ballad. Lighter sensibilities work within the bands favor but are also what hold the band back at the same time.

Vocalist Love Andersson is a very good singer. He writes strong catchy melodies, but ultimately keeps things too clean for the immediacy demanded from the guitars on tracks like “Down for Delight”. In this track his frailness is pushed to the side and the song stutters to be fully realized beyond some parabolic guitar work. The opposite can almost be said on “Champagne”, where the chorus tries too hard to sound aggressive within the limits of pop. Sometimes the overall package just doesn’t work, and songs end up sounding flat. The music that Andersson sings in front of is put together well. I only wish he ventured beyond his comfort zone in the pursuit of something more memorable.

In all fairness, most of what PORT NOIR does on this album is very good. Variety is always important and “The New Routine” has that in spades. As an alternative rock album, it has much to offer the landscape and should have no problem finding an audience. The softer sensibilities will distance the rockers, and the heavier attributes will alienate the pop lovers. However, it’s within this narrowing field that more interesting music happens, and the most loyal fans are found. There is no doubt in my mind that PORT NOIR will have plenty more of those as they move forward.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Old Fashioned
2. Flawless
3. Blow
4. Champagne
5. Low Lights
6. 13
7. Young Bloods
8. Define Us
9. Drive
10. Down for Delight
11. Out of Line
Lineup:
Love Andersson – Bass, Vocals
AW Wiberg – Drums
Andreas Hollstrand – Guitars, Keys, Vocals
Record Label: InsideOut Music
     


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