The Narcoleptic Dancers - Never Sleep (Bleepmachine/Capitaine Plouf)

Almost brilliant, almost too sickly sweet

Released Oct 17th, 2011 via Bleepmachine / By Mark Beckett
The Narcoleptic Dancers - Never Sleep (Bleepmachine/Capitaine Plouf) If the face smothering fringes don't already, the vintage bicycle, record player, telephone complete with old fashioned dial and flowers draped over an acoustic guitar that adorn the album cover should act as a warning to the immoderately elegant nature of the music within. Its fun and catchy melodies instantly make you want to go out and buy a candy floss machine, however it would be advisable to keep the receipt, sickly sweet ecstasy is acceptable only in small doses.

Whether it's a good or bad thing, it's a collection of tunes that wouldn't sound out of place on a mobile phone advert. Layer upon layer of backing vocals, sprinklings of xylophone and sunny guitars flood the ten songs (before demos & bonus tracks) with all but one clocking in at under three minutes, or 'twee indie pop' if you want the blanket term.

To go some way of explaining this, Netherlands born singer Melody Van Kappers and French multi-instrumentalist Anton Louis Jr are half siblings whose father was a professional footballer in the 70s. He was nicknamed 'Narcoleptic Dancer' due to his unique dribble style and haircut, though it wasn't until his funeral that Melody and Anton met for the first time. With ten years between them, separate mothers and living in different countries, their one connection was a love for music, a passion which couldn't keep them apart.

As pretty as the back story may be, the music doesn't quite do it justice, they'd have been better off writing a semi-autobiographical novella, now that would be a great read. Independent from preconceptions it still doesn't hold up as an impressive slice of 'twee indie pop'. If it was to be summed up using one of their song titles 'Sweet and Soft' does the job perfectly, however this song also best encapsulates everything wrong with the album too, its skipping feel caresses but never truly satisfies.

'Not Evident' is instantly catchy and has the same care-free playfulness which got French singer Novelle Vague noticed in the UK, the bouncy rhythm and wandering vocals make it one of the stronger tracks on the album. Slightly anomalous is 'Dusty Cowboy' with its dark bassline and a sleek organ hook, which is a refreshing break from the kids creche music that starts to wear thin.

Perhaps the whole thing would be more acceptable if the duo had something to offer lyrically, a deep irony lying beneath the thick gloss, but unfortunately the lyrics are just as cute as the music. Never Sleep's saving grace however is 'Unique Tree', in which all their dreams of flowers, acoustic guitars and bicycles align in their natural equinox. Their typical constant pace is substituted for a slightly more progressive feel, with rockabilly percussion drifting in and out, backing vocals placed more carefully and the keys providing a big lift during the chorus.

The morbid 'Little Clown' is a welcome surprise at the end of the album with choral vocals and strings bringing the album to a close. It's the parachute that prevents you hurtling towards a dangerous level of whimsy. Never Sleep is one that will divide, it will please optimists and repulse pessimists, it will make Noel Gallagher vomit but have Elton John reaching for the daffodils. It may not dazzle but as a beautiful lady walks down a sunny street on her mobile phone amidst people sat in trees and playing badminton it fits perfectly, so television commercials will be interested if nobody else is.