This is the first major release of new material since the Nines’ critically acclaimed album Gran Jukle’s Field. Amazingly, Steve Eggers has come a long way from his 1998 debut on EMI, to working with a Who’s Who of power pop music gods including Andy Partridge (XTC) and Jason Falkner (Jellyfish). This new self-titled album is another pop masterpiece.
Starting with a disco funk bass (shades of Bleu here) intro, Eggers works magic on “Backseat” into an ultra hooky single. With the crowd noise, you almost feel like you’re attending a revival of Frampton Comes Alive! The piano rocker “Far Away” is a perfect segue full of contradictions like “Leave. Please stay. Doesn’t matter now” with an ELO styled middle eight. “Jackie Smokes” is a tonal shift with a heavy guitar and synth, but full of intricately layered vocals – sounding both modern and classic all at once. A few more songs heap on synths and elctro beats, but Steve’s melodies are underneath it all.
“The Virtuous Man” multi-layers the vocal and acoustic guitar with Andy Partridge, and it’s such a great song it makes me miss XTC even more. A fully orchestrated, slickly produced “Seasons” will please McCartney fans, but Steve feels most at home at the old piano with mid tempo ballads like “On The Slidelines” and “Martin.” No one could sing these songs with more earnest. “Goodbye” is another sweet ear confection that would’ve fit neatly on Macca’s Tug of War. Not a single misstep or filler track, and an easy nominee for my 2013 top ten year end list. Welcome back Nines!