You can stick an “ette” on the end of just about any word make it a name: Pipettes, Ronettes, Smurfette, Corvette, and so forth. It’s surprising no one has actually used Noisettes before this London trio came along. The name’s kinda cute, kinda punky, and it’s also a word for a cut piece of meat. Pretty fitting for a band as quirky, loud, and elastic as this is.
What’s the Time Mr. Wolf is a feisty debuts — opener “Don’t Give Up” is precisely chopped guitars and singer Shingai Shoniwa’s vocals, which run the gamut from snarly and sassy to near yodels. “Scratch Your Name” nearly eclipses the opener. The riff is a fat, meaty slap on the ass that unfortunately runs out of speed at the chorus.
But this album isn’t all bluster and caterwauling; there are some softer, more reflective moments as well, particularly on “Bridge to Canada,” where Shoniwa’s confident vocals become tender and fragile. She was born to be a frontwoman. She’s theatrical and magnetic, riveting and mercurial — and that’s just her vocal gymnastics. Whatever direction this band goes, be it psychedelic punk funk or bluesy, riffy rock, it’ll be hard to take the focus off Shoniwa’s ridiculously fantastic voice. That’s not necessarily a bad thing at all.