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The Nylon Admirals Are Back With “Handbags”

The world of modern instrumental music can be a hard sound to break into; if you aren’t intrinsically tied to scoring for films, television, and video games, you’re expected to have something more substantial to your output than just orchestral compositions. One such example is esteemed film composer Mica Levi (Under the Skin, Jackie, Zola), who performs pop music under the stage name Micachu with their band Good Sad Happy Bad.

It’s not enough to be one thing these days, you’ve gotta do several things and be very, very good at all of them. The Nylon Admirals seem to be taking a page out of Levi’s book on multitasking within music, as their sophomore debut arrives in the form of something more akin to a film score than a traditional album. Handbags offers compositions in the ballpark of a “concept album,” but with the bigger picture pointed straight at science-fiction, and electronic mayhem, The Nylon Admirals seem to be honing their scope from within the confines of independent music.

Handbags is not as experimental as some would expect from the lead-up I just gave it. No, there are some deeply experimental instances across its fifty-minute runtime, but Handbags is a steadfast entry into pop-electronica canon above all else. Songs such as “Guillotine,” “Septillions,” and “Green Boots” offer pop stylings on sci-fi style instrumentals — be aware that the vocals you’ll hear here are all sampled from old films and the like, but they’re used to great effect as though they are embodying the mindset of a lead singer for the band. The opening track “In a World” gives listeners a fun toe-dip in the river of ham as everyone’s favorite movie trailer announcer “returns” to the industry to narrate the impending “plot” of Handbags.

“What Dreams May Come” has crystal-clear guitar licks that could potentially feel out of place on any other album, but Handbags’ eclectic nature is what makes the project so varied and extensive. The closing track, “Orabidoo,” might tire out some listeners as it comes at a length of thirteen minutes; not a single minute is boring, as the band makes excellent use of the song’s suite-like structure, but modern audiences rarely seem primed for a song as long-form and intense as this. Those patient enough to give it a try will undoubtedly see “Orabidoo” as an album highlight, however.

More than anything, Handbags feels like a textbook “calling card” album for The Nylon Admirals. Here is a perfect summation of every different height, depth, and texture they’re capable of capturing — do you want to invoke the Clockwork Orange score? Say no more. Would you like to feel as though you’ve taken the leash off of your brain and it’s now floating in zero gravity on its way to Mars? Easy money. The breadth of The Nylon Admirals’ work is on its best behavior here, harkening film scores of old while reminiscing on future electronica acts we’ve yet to even conceptualize. Handbags is a rare feat, and one best left on repeat.

Mindy McCall



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