Nico & Vinz – Black Star Elephant
This is a hard review to write. As much as I loved Am I Wrong and In Your Arms, the two monstrously successful tracks from Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz, and after eagerly anticipating their debut album, I’ve been left hugely disappointed.
A long album on paper, Black Star Elephant is peppered with short interludes marked in squared brackets. I can sort of see where these have come from, giving a bit of a community feel to the album, but I don’t think it especially works with the poppy tone of the record. They interrupt the flow rather than help it move from track to track and on a few occasions it kind of just sounded like a bad radio show.
Aside from [Intro] the album begins with the debut single In Your Arms. It’s a strong beginning, giving the listener what they know but is a little too bold – you have to be a brave artist to put your most recognisable song on the start of an album. We then go on to hear Last Time, a song that’s okay though not completely overwhelming. You can hear the African influence that comes through on their music (Nicolay “Nico” Sereba is of Ivory Coast descent whilst Vincent “Vinz” Dery’s family originate in Ghana) but oddly enough it reminds me of a filler track on a Blue album… there’s just not a lot of craftsmanship in it aside from the upbeat rhythm. The rest of the album follows suit with a bigger Afro Influence coming through than on the two singles that have been released though a lack of variation in tempo makes it hard to stay interested. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the Afrobeat/Pop mix they have going on but I just don’t think anything stands out that much.
What could have been a contender for pop album of the year has let me down; it’s just too dull, too repetitive and not as engaging as it should be. I’ll still go on enjoying the two singles but the album is mediocre, okay at best.