Salim Nourallah

In the very last line of the very last page of Beautiful Noise's liner notes, Salim Nourallah issues a thank-you to "the neurosurgeons at Children's Medical Center Dallas." Really, this tucked-away detail is where the album starts. Nourallah has openly stated that his sophomore solo album was inspired in part by recent surgery for his son, and the somber tone throughout Noise reflects that sort of life-shaking family incident, as do the protective, worrisome lyrics in songs like "The World is Full of People Who Want to Hurt You." But Nourallah's heartache is not narrow and specific--Noise is a break-up album for 14-year-olds as much as it is a mourning album for 40-year-olds, whether bemoaning the remains of a relationship in "The Apartment" or questioning the afterlife in "First Love." Don't listen to this if you're anywhere near a good mood--every song takes its cues from slow, sadder Beatles material and makes Pete Yorn sound chipper in comparison. In fact, when Nourallah has a chance to rock the boat with the catchy "All Waste the Days," he instead neuters the song's rocking qualities to fit the mood. Still, touches of feedback, mellotron and violin make the sad songs rich and full, which makes this album great company when misery arises.

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sam Machkovech