Artist: The Nocturnals
Album: Next Time It’s Personal
Reviewed: April 9, 2010, by Jack M Silverstein
“I need some cash/ My parents say I shouldn’t rap for it/ I feel like I have a natural knack for it.”
And so begins Next Time It’s Personal, the debut LP from The Nocturnals, a rapper-producer collab between newcomer MC Rota and nearly newcomer The Letter N. Rappers are known for their bravado and bold self-assertions, and Rota claiming to have “a natural knack” for rapping (only nine seconds into his first, under-the-underground album, no less) plays as an intriguing aw-shucks hip-hop boast. It is also the challenge he must live up to, the question that will drive our reception of his performance over 13 tracks. With no guests and few hooks, there is little for Rota to hide behind on Next Time It’s Personal; the Letter N’s canvas is visible but rarely out front, so we spend the record ensnared in Rota’s stream-of-conscious verses, debating his “natural knack.” Though he doesn’t quite pull it off over the entire 13 song set, there are enough flickers of enjoyment in this debut to look forward to Rota’s next offering.
Next Time It’s Personal opens with three songs of medium tempo and urgency; the record does not come into its own until “Slow 2 B Leaving.” Rota’s background as a spoken word artist plays well on this track, along with the haunting refrain on “Everlasting Love” in which the narrator discusses his love with an android: “But you’ll never die/ But neither will I/ No, I’m just spitting game/ Because one day I’ll die changing while you’ll stay the same.” On those songs of medium tempo, Rota seems to be trying his damndest to enunciate and hit every syllable. The flow isn’t bad, merely labored and deliberate. In short, he sounds for much of the album like the beginner he is.
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2. A Nomad Who Rambles
4. Slow 2 B Leaving
6. Tax Return Acme Robots
7. Everlasting Love
8. Where I Dream To Be, Briefly
9. Where the Stones Aren’t Rolling
10. Talk To Yourself
11. These Pills
12. Standing Here with Strangers
13. Fables, Tall Tales & Fictions
Download the album here. NOTE: The track listing is floating around the internet in a mixed up order. The above order is approved straight from the Nocturnals themselves.
Listen to excerpts here.