Nevermen: Nevermen

It feels like a while since we've heard a Mike Patton supergroup, but has Nevermen been worth the wait?

- The on-paper proposition that Nevermen presents is a promising one; Mike PattonTunde Adebimpe (of TV On The Radio) and Adam “Doseone” Drucker (of Anticon), are three talented frontmen bristling with artistic ambition and a willingness to meld themselves to the music; but this thing that should be a beautiful, rhythmic hive mind has a tendency to sound more like mixed sheet music thrown in a washing machine.

There’s certainly a unique energy emanating from its cerberus approach to songwriting. The songs are often highly irreverent but weightily instrumented, carrying experimental DNA but in an almost tribally calculated way. There are innumerable flourishes in every corner of the album; old fashioned rap diversions, melody built on chip-tune bones, calculated beat pop and layer after layer after layer of vocality that often refuses to harmonise completely, despite the three singers doing their very best impressions of one another.

It’s hard to qualify the sound of Nevermen. Is it pop-opera, avant-indie? It has an almost grandiose scale in places, an unnerving instrumental vastness that you’d expect find inside a Secret Chiefs album, but the mysteries here feel far less eternal and more like a National Treasure map. There are markers to look out for in its folds, landmarks to musical success, but when you shove them all together like this it just plays the sound of homogeneity. Despite that and themselves, there are some really wonderful moments on the album. Tracks like Treat Em Right, which actually embraces its own absurdity and plays it up like a bouncy castle made of Lego or Fame II The Reckoning, the album closer and only track to contain anything like breathing room, growth or payoff.

After forty minutes of sample baked layer cake and auditory high-fives, the project starts to smell a bit of smugness. Maybe it’s the incessant buoyancy and looping density or the entirely purposeful way that it almost never matters who’s doing what where or why, but it feels like any message of merit has been overwrought and buried under piles of sure why not.

So, Nevermen becomes a curious thing, a thousand wonderful ideas all smooshed together into a pointillist rendition of three hands patting themselves on the back. It’s wonderfully realised, and that’s an existential delight, but it probably wasn’t worth the “years-in-the-making” wait that nobody endured.

- Nic Addenbrooke.

 

Album Details

Album Title: Nevermen
Artist: Nevermen
Record Label: (ADA / Warner)