No-man return eleven years after their last album, Schoolyard Ghosts, with their new offering Love You To Bits; an album that is so different from previous recordings that it borders on genius. This is a concept album of sorts, dealing with the effects that love can have on the breakdown of a relationship, presented from two different perspectives. The album appears to be structured to mimic vinyl running time with two five-song cycles and a total running time of just over thirty minutes. The production was handled by no-man, mixing by Bruno Ellingham and mastering by Matt Colton.
Of all the Steve Wilson side projects, no-man, formed in 1987, has to be my personal favourite, mostly due to the magnificent voice and approach of Tim Bowness. This partnership appears to enhance both of their individual skills, coming together to create a wonderful whole. On this release they have not been afraid to push their musical boundaries in new directions, to spellbinding effect, creating an intriguing and interesting listen, perfectly timed and paced, to such an extent that you want to hit replay as soon as the closing notes fade.
The two connecting pieces use a mix of pop, rock and electronica, delivering lots of melody, big beats and great solos, all mixed with ambient and atmospheric textures. Into the mix comes the wonderful voice of Tim Bowness which appears to tie everything together so well.
The first series of five tracks gets off to an atmospheric start which shifts into an electronica feel. Tim’s voice fits well into this style before things get ramped up a bit with some more upfront drums. The tracks segue effortlessly into each other with linking themes, sounds and textures, at first this may appear repetitive, but far from it as these are integral to the idea of the pieces and repeated plays demonstrate hidden depths and the purpose behind it all. The fifth piece of the first track adds some lovely brass work, courtesy of the Dave Desmond Brass Quartet, which lifts the track to an excellent conclusion.
The second series of tracks continues with similar themes, sounds and textures but subtle changes continue to be added as things progress, the lyrics throughout the album chronicling the aftermath of a relationship break up. On Love you To Pieces 2, they use a voice modulation which certainly makes for an interesting and effective listen.
There’s an excellent two-fold effect with this album, it’s incredibly listenable throughout and also very danceable (if that’s your thing), in fact, you cannot help but foot tap along with it.
Overall an excellent return for no-man, demonstrating that they are still on form, not afraid to stretch themselves with some new directions and still turn out a quality listenable album.
So… do you wanna dance? Put this on and let’s go!
01. Love You to Bits 1 (4:53)
02. Love You to Bits 2 (1:03)
03. Love You to Bits 3 (1:34)
04. Love You to Bits 4 (5:15)
05. Love You to Bits 5 (4:19)
06. Love You to Pieces 1 (6:03)
07. Love You to Pieces 2 (4:02)
08. Love You to Pieces 3 (3:03)
09. Love You to Pieces 4 (2:02)
10. Love You to Pieces 5 (3:44)
Total Time – 36:02
Tim Bowness – Vocals
Steve Wilson – Instruments
~ With Guests:
Adam Holzman – Keyboards
David Kollar – Guitar
Ash Soan – Drums
Peter Morgan – Bass
Dave Desmond Brass Quintet
Record Label: Caroline International / Universal
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 22nd November 2019