> Album Review - shaking hands with the NME by wojtek the bear - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Album Review – shaking hands with the NME by wojtek the bear

More Than An Evening’s Session

It’s not as if there’s a downside in having so many talented bands on your doorstep, but it’s often hard to give them all credit or rightful attention. Take wojtek the bear. Whenever their music plays you can’t help but marvel at the pleasing sounds, but when out of earshot, they perhaps don’t spring to mind as readily as some acts. Then again, this might change with shaking hands with the NME, an album primed to connect with new listeners.

Working with a named producer like Stephen Street will undoubtedly place the band in front of many receptive ears, and it probably forced them to up their game. Of course, no producer is spinning gold if the songs don’t have some merit, but this has never been an issue for wojtek the bear. Back in 2021, for the heaven by the back door LP, horns, melodies, and swooping guitars were at the forefront throughout, and to that extent it’s in a similar vein.

Things are more robust on shaking hands with the NME, though, and it’s a welcome change. The ringing guitar on ‘sometimes you have to go left’, the swooning strings on ‘small time highs’, the giddy urgency and bold horns of ‘god loves a trier’, the mix of jangly guitars and thumping drums on ‘fireworks out of focus’ are all highlights, and there’s every chance you’ll have your favourite sections too.

It’s a sumptuous record where the band’s melodic ways are allowed to breathe and flourish, while Tam Killean’s lyrical wordplay is fun and sure to keep you bouncing back to listen again later. The storytelling on the title track will evoke a few memories and daydreams, but it’s the joining the dots between lines or turns of phrase that make repeat listens rewarding.

You could keep yourself up until the wee small hours pondering where the band ranks in the pantheon of modern-time Scottish indie acts, and whether the local bands we love will ever get their due. Or you could simply stick the album on, relax, and enjoy yourself with a record that seems quietly satisfied with its revelry. As it should be.

shaking hands with the NME is released on 12th April on Last Night From Glasgow

Main Photo Credit: Chris Hogge

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