BNQT – Volume 1

Album Review by Finbarr Bermingham | 19 Apr 2017
Album title: Volume 1
Artist: BNQT
Label: Bella Union
Release date: 21 Apr

BNQT is an indie super-group made up of members of Midlake, along with the frontmen from Band of Horses, Franz Ferdinand, Grandaddy and Travis. Taken separately, they're five bands that inspire varying degrees of excitement, but perhaps their unifying feature is their collective knack for a melody: each has produced number of tunes you could whistle all day long.

Put them together, and you get exactly what you might expect from a group of musicians in and around their 40s with a healthy appetite for 1970s rock music. It’s your uncle and his mates ensconced in the shed for a week with a load of old 45s and a barrel of whiskey. That is to say, it’s predictable and a tad messy, but it sounds like probably enjoyed themselves making it.   

Each of the five artists (with Eric Pulido representing Midlake) contributed writing and singing duties to two tracks on Volume 1, and it’s fairly obvious to pick up on who’s done what. The absurdist Hey Banana, a sweet slice of 60s psychedelia sung by Alex Kapranos, is one of the more memorable songs on the album, while 100 Million Miles, delivered by Jason Lytle, is an expansive ode to a space-traveling wonder of engineering that could have been lifted straight off a Grandaddy record

For the most part, though this is tuneful, if lamentably generic stuff. Where some collectives struggle for cohesion, this lot are crying out for fresh ideas. Lead single Restart is a Status Quo reboot, the Fran Healy-penned Mind of a Man is a decent Travis track, while the only attempt at some sort of hoodang – LA On My Mind – is AOR brought to you by the cast of Glee. In short, this is the least inventive product you could have expected from a bunch of varyingly inventive songwriters. Which is to say, it’s not much good at all.

Listen to: 100 Million Miles, Hey Banana

Buy BNQT - Volume 1 on LP/CD from Norman Records