Nigel & the Dropout are an indie electronic dance rock duo that consists of Nigel Hemmye and Andrew Ficker. The pair hail from the musical hub of Detroit, Michigan, and have been creating their self-described “DIY electro punk” for the last few years. The two have released several projects since 2011 and their latest full-length is titled Folderal.
Folderal contains 13 tracks and runs for just shy of an hour. Normally I find myself put off by a project of the electronic persuasion of this length, as I usually find it hard for an electronic project to keep my attention for too long before it starts to get stale. But I must say, there is a lot that I like here, and that’s largely in part to the variety of different songs spread across this album. Nigel & the Dropout succeeds by giving themselves a broad horizon to create many different songs that sound unique in their own way, while still being able to tell that they are part of the same project. While there is definitely a defined sound here, each track is different enough in its own right that I did not get bored too fast.
The integral part of any dance record is a strong rhythm section, and this duo is well aware of it. Nigel & The Dropout make great use of choppy drum beats, matched with happy melodies and infectious, groovy riffs that beg to be danced to.
Like I said, the group has a wide variety of sounds, pulling from a wide variety of samples and genres. The track “Misfire” opens with a twangy western folk sound, and goes into an eerie atmosphere with anthem like vocal delivery, then brings the guitars back and transitions back into that twang by the end of the song. Meanwhile, songs like “I Am a Trampoline” or “Concussive Maintenance” allow more traditional rock instruments to take the front seat and do their job. And the album’s closer, “The Works,” which I assume is a nod to the infamous Detroit EDM venue, has strong moments of EDM, which is rare for me to enjoy in these days of festival trap and MDMA induced hysteria.
The vocals here are pretty take-it-or-leave-it, in my opinion. They get the job done and they are not bad by any means, there are even a few undeniably sing along sections here, but they are nothing to write home about. It’s the one area of the album I didn’t particularly care for. The instrumentals are really where this album shines. Honestly some of my favorite songs on this thing do not contain any vocals at all, like “Blood Brain Barrier”- that damn near hypnotized me.
Nigel & The Dropout succeeded in creating an infectious dance worthy album that doesn’t let itself fall in the troupes of modern-day EDM. Folderal manages to keep me interested from beginning to end without getting stale by continuing to introduce new sounds and ideas. (Johnny Athey)
Favorite tracks: Blood Brain Barrier, Perennial Departure
For Fans Of: Jamaican Queens, STRFKR