Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood
Oct 02, 2012 Issue #42 - The Protest Issue
Extra Playful was the title of John Cale's last release, his 2011 EP that saw him visiting much lighter territory than his fans had become used to over recent years. It turns out this was an aptly teasing title that suggested mischievous misdirection, as the poppier melodies that made up that record are eschewed for a greater sense of vintage violence on brilliantly-titled new album Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood.
Opener "I Wanna Talk 2 U" combines distorted, chugging acoustic guitars with a funky chorus that neatly reflects its Prince-like title. The urgent chords and haunting synthesisers roll throughout the album; even at 70, Cale packs more energy and life into his first two tracks than most of today's hipster favorites can manage across an entire discography.
This isn't to say that Shifty Adventures is an album chock-full of 1970s-style rock that recaptures Cale's glorious past. Almost-title track "Nookie Wood" is led by a throbbing bass and distorted background voices that, along with a terrifying lead vocal that Tom Waits would be proud of, suggest that the eponymous wood may not be quite as playful as its name implies.
New Adventures in Nookie Wood is brimming with ideas, and the album's chopped-up, heavy aesthetic knits them together in a way that means that not one ever feels misdirected. It may be dispiriting for new bands influenced by his old band The Velvet Underground to hear, but in 2012 there are few artists in Britain as relevant as John Cale.
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 9/10