Cover art for Noir Disco's album Now! 2073
The cover art from Noir Disco’s album Now! 2073 Credit: Courtesy the artist

Noir Disco’s new debut album, Now! 2073, belongs to a proud tradition of art-rock. Siblings Nolan and Carter Dickson lead the Chicago group, and their music draws on specific reference points from a lifetime of shared music nerdery. On Now! 2073, the band take inspiration from 70s classic rock, 80s European new-wave pop, and 00s Brooklyn postpunk to convert anxious energy into dance beats, guitar snickers, and synth outbursts. On “21st Century Hipster Man” they reimagine the title and multipart structure of a 1969 King Crimson classic as the product of improvisation in a Logan Square home studio. The lyrics are snarky, poking fun at anyone who mistakes cultural consumption for a personality, but the music conveys the joy the group takes in unfettered creation—it’s audible in the gearshift tempo changes, sick fuzz-bass fills, and vocal na na nas. 

Noir Disco’s lyrics seek unusual perspectives on the mundane. Taking inspiration from David Byrne, they choose generic topics such as food and music to show how societal norms and personal neuroses can complicate everyday experiences. On “Hungry,” the lyrics gesture at self-care by insisting, “Aren’t you hungry for what they have? / It’s OK to eat a home-cooked meal”; meanwhile, the discordant guitar parts and Carter’s snotty vocals make the simple act of dining sound like an impossible task. This approach isn’t foolproof: on “Los Angeles,” their critique of the city as full of fakes is ironically superficial, though their enthusiasm often helps elevate their observations. “Television,” which incorporates the HBO show-intro sound and a sample of former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly saying “Fuck it, we’ll do it live,” works much better: the song simulates the sensory overload of a million streaming programs available at all times so successfully that it feels like a necessary jolt of sanity to shout “We know it’s a lie” along with the Dicksons. By the time we actually see the 2073rd installment of the compilation series Now That’s What I Call Music! (which Noir Disco jokingly reference in their album title), popular music might sound nothing like Now! 2073, but its tunes about petty annoyances and small pleasures will remain as relevant as they are now.

Noir Disco’s Now! 2073 is available through Bandcamp.