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Celina Murphy, 29 Nov 2010
If the internet is still to be trusted, Not Squares are three bonny boys from Belfast with lots of instruments and even more energy. A quick scan of the ‘Tube, the ‘Space and the ‘Camp gives the impression of a band overflowing with confidence, and unwittingly sets up debut album Yeah OK to be one of the party records of the year.
The frankly massive ‘Asylum’ says it all, really – copious amounts of cowbell, a sick bassline, a singable hook and three ragged, croaking voices hollering out in joyous unison.
‘Release The Bees’, a track of Faithless-sized drama, opens the album with a flurry of seductive beats and, from there on, it’s 46 minutes of pure astral lunacy. Production comes from The Vinny Club – AKA Vincent McCreith, Richter Collective’s 8-bit darling and masked bassist behind Adebisi Shank and thus a man who clearly knows his way around a bleep. ‘Don’t Do Nothing’ is a slow-burning powerhouse, while echoey anthem ‘De Na Na’ and extra-terrestrial war-cry ‘In Front’ are both graced with Daft Punk-brand allure.
Elsewhere, ‘Bi Kan Na’ is a fiery muddle of scuzzy synths and ‘Yeah’ is some Martian club promoter’s wet dream of a track. Closer ‘53’ is spacier still, warming down the listener with a winding instrumental and (you guessed it) futuristic flourish.
As with many of 2010’s most interesting debutantes, Not Squares have opted to tick neither the ‘instrumental’, nor the ‘vocal’ box, instead adding their tentative, irksome bellows only when it suits them. This way, they can be sure that every ‘Yeah!’ and ‘Whoah-Oh-Oh’ is delivered with an insatiable urgency – if you should find yourself settling into a groove, be warned that there’s always another pulsating beat around the corner.
But for all its celestial charm, Yeah OK is not an album to intellectualise (that would not be Not Okay) – it’s a record to swallow whole, to devour in one greedy, victorious gulp. Just mind what it does to your intestines.