Another month, another Strokes off-shoot. Following the two solo albums from Albert Hammond Jnr and Fab Moretti’s Little Joy, it’s the turn of bassist Nikolai Fraiture’s Nickel Eye (see what he did there) to kill time until the NY supergroup reconvene. The band is basically made up of Fraiture alongside UK indie outfit, South, although a couple of famous friends make guest appearances. Quoting influences of the calibre of Neil Young, Ray Davies, Frank Black and Leonard Cohen could be seen as giving reviewers a rope to hang you with, and truth be told, Fraiture’s lyrics don’t hit anything like the heights of his heroes (a fact reinforced by his cover of Cohen’s classic -Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’). Indeed, it is only Spektor’s stellar piano that rescues -Where The Cold Wind Blows’ from clichÃ© hell.
It all begins harmlessly enough, with the funky -Intro (Every Time)’, ostensibly a mini title track, which doesn’t exactly set pulses racing, while -You And Everyone Else’ comes across like Evan Dando leading The Strokes through an acoustic workout. It isn’t until the Dylan-esque narrative of -Back From Exile’ that Fraiture really starts to cut his teeth, delivering acoustic spittle and spite in a manner that’s rarely been heard in recent years. Respect where it’s deserved. Similarly, -This Is The End’ and -Another Sunny Afternoon’ bounce along with decent guitar licks and toe-tapping melodies (the latter bearing a more-than-passing resemblance to The Only Ones’ -Another Girl, Another Planet’), while -Providence RI’ is a worthy paean to home.
Elsewhere, however, -Fountain Avenue’ is like an Adam Green cast-off (and that’s saying something, considering some of the shite Green leaves on his albums), while the faux-calypso -Brandy Of The Damned’ is nothing short of cringe-inducingly embarrassing. Fraiture’s vocals are, at best, limited, more suited to lo-fi -Dying Star’ (featuring Yeah Yeah Yeah Nick Zinner’s Edge-like axe-work) than the closing Cohen cover.
There’s a long-running joke that the least musical of a bunch of mates ends up playing the bass and Nickel Eye’s debut would seem to suggest that like most clichÃ©s, it’s only funny -cos it’s true. For Strokes completists only.