In 2007, Sixteen Layers won Dublin’s Bodog battle of the bands. In 2008 they got a record deal, made a splash with single ‘Torch’ and worked with Foo Fighter’s producer Jim Lowe. In 2009 – a full two years after announcing themselves – the four Dubliners finally rolled out an album.
I Am No One is a beautifully produced eleven-track stomp along the line between straight up old-school rock and modern-day anthemic indie. There’s even the occasional detour via strained, screeching metal-style vocals, and it’s a compelling combo. Niall’s voice has a hint of stadium rock to it; a dragged out, tuneful sound that makes I Am No One sound very much like it’s supposed to be played to a large number of someones.
Fan favorite ‘Torch’ is a clear stand out: 4 minutes of controlled tension that bursts into tuneful choruses, all held together by a driving rhythm. The climatic, nu-indie build up of opener (and new single) ‘No Strings’ is an epic staccato wake up call, and the slowed-down beats of beautiful tracks like ‘Exile’ show Sixteen Layers are far from one-trick ponies.
If there’s one gripe with I Am No One, it’s that Sixteen Layers never really reach the heights of their energetic live performances, but that was always going to be a lot to ask. Whilst the albums tight, note-perfect production steals a slight cutting edge from the on-stage performances, I Am No One is so cleverly ordered and well balanced it’s easy to forget that Sixteen Layers are even better live.
When they won battle of the bands way back in -07, the judges noted that Sixteen Layers looked and played like rock stars. On this evidence the Dubliners no longer need the comparisons: they are rock stars.