Album Review: Night By Night – “N x N”
After five formative years, and subtle changes in personnel, the eponymous full-length debut from London’s Night By Night (or NxN) arrives hewn from the face of naked ambition. The claim is a familiar one – a promise to invoke the hedonistic sound of classic 80s rock, but with a contemporary twist.
Now, by and large, when a band has shown up on this charge before, results have usually been – how do we say this and sound fair – crap. We’ll show respect and avoiding naming individual acts. Standing there with your Nikki Sixx haircuts, evangelically clutching a copy of The Dirt like it’s a lost volume of from the Old Testament. There was more, way more, to the 80s than sleaze rock.
So how do Night By Night escape a throwback dead end? Experience helps. Guitarist and songwriter Ben Christo (Sisters of Mercy) will be known to many from his DJ stints at Decadence and the Electric Ballroom, where he demonstrates an encyclopaedic knowledge of the decade of decadence, meanwhile front-man Henry Rundell has been through more bands than supergroupie Bebe Buell.
Here’s a body of work that shows a willingness to look beyond ‘The Strip’ and out to broader vinyl horizons from Dokken, Def Leppard, Journey and even Night Ranger. As for that promised contemporary kick, well, it’s very much on show too. Sure, the emphasis might be on a pristine pop-rock, three-part harmonies and a clean guitar tone, but a smart, sharp production by Romesh Dodangoda (The Blackout, Bullet for my Valentine) roughs up the edges a bit, and stamps the sound with the date “2014”.
Overall though, it’s those harmonies which are the calling card – Night By Night are a rock band that can sing. Can’t Walk Away, Holding onto Holding On and Time to Escape demonstrate a welcome return for melody placed front and centre of a hard rock record, supported to by some luscious vocal arrangements. Oh and here’s a thing, harmonising guitars, that beloved trick so essential to the mechanic of dual-guitar bands like Thin Lizzy and Def Leppard.
Expect to see Night by Night occupying some very prized support slots in the not too distant future. One to get in on, before the hysteria.