Album review: Feelin’ Good by Nightmares on Wax

Feelin' Good by Nightmares on Wax
Feelin' Good by Nightmares on Wax
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Leeds local George Evelyn aka Nightmares On Wax has been a part of the musical fabric of this city for over two decades.

Via his being a vital starting member of Warp Records’ always impressive roster he has also been an inspiration to those who would follow and ply similarly multicultural organic electronica (compare the opening track ‘So Here We Are’ to Bonobo’s similarly jazzy electronica and consider that NOW has been releasing such tunes since the early 90s). After a four-year break in releases comes his eighth album Feelin’ Good, an album where he wanted to make music that captured why he found music so attractive, what it was that made him love it so much. The discovery: all the best moments of musical discovery were moments of “feeling good”, meant in the most broad whatever floats your boat way possible. Here we have a record that aims to make music worthy of the title, songs that make you feel good, chill you out, wash away your worries. He absolutely succeeds.

In achieving that goal NOW doesn’t limit himself to any one genre either, taking in the best bits of any feel good music that came to his mind and engaged with playfully. There is everything from jazz (an undercurrent in the roll of the drums and playful brass runs almost throughout) to ratatat dub (‘Be, I Do’) to reggae vibes (‘Now Is The Time’), towards the end of the album even some of NOW’s trip hop and club music influences of old come back into play, particularly on the moodier ‘Tapestry’. It’s music that chills you out or gets you pumped, the happiness from just kicking back for a while or the high from jumping round like a maniac to the beat of the drum and the boom of the bass. All are welcome here.

The whole album is just so warm, nod-along and upbeat it’s hard not to love. Even the apparent negativity of a couplet like “Master plans, they have no ending/Master plans, they have no style” (‘Master Plan’) comes across more like backhanded positivity or shortsighted advice than anything critical; why worry about big grand schemes for the future when you can be so happy now? It is even a point in Feelin’ Good’s favour that the usual damning with faint praise or just plain damning two words “easy listening” have never been more apt. Everyone can find something to love here.

While not every moment of the album is as engaging as others, occasionally becoming so laidback it’s to its own detriment, overall it is tonic for the ears, music for the soul and everything its title sets it out to be.

It can soundtrack your party, your after-party or be listened to closely on headphones to enjoy all the subtle nuances of the production. All NOW asks is that you let it make you feel good. And it very much does.

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