Who is N.A.M.B.? Well, we’re not talking about the North American Missions Board in this case. We’re talking about the mysterious Italian quartet. The group recently released their sophomore album, BMAN, an ambitious concept album.
The concept of the album is outlined on a blog called Planet Juice. BMan is a robot who lives on Planet Juice but he discovers he is different than other robots. Unlike other robots, BMan has a star burning inside his chest. Do you see how this is an allegory already? Does it also seem a little jejune to you? Luckily understand or caring about the story is completely unnecessary to enjoying the album. As a matter of fact, until I checked out their website, I had no idea this was a concept album.
Concept albums are usually accused of being convoluted. N.A.M.B., themselves, are very convoluted. Their music is a hybrid of industrial, prog-rock, and psychedelia. They might be the only band ever draw comparisons to Muse, the Flaming Lips, and Nine Inch Nails. But the fact is that all of those comparisons work.
“Champagne” reminds me of 90s industrial act, Gravity Kills. The song mixes 90s alternative song writing with an industrial backbone and distorted vocals for an aggressive sound. In contrast, “Bye Bye Sides” has a fun, psychedelic feel of Yeasayer. Other tracks like the album’s closing track “Blue Sky” has a sound of something off of one of U2‘s 90s albums.
BMAN is an awfully ambitious project and for the scope of work, N.A.M.B. does a pretty good job. But the fact is that the album falls into many of the pitfalls of other concept albums. The album is convoluted, too long, and musically is all over the place. There are probably eight good songs on the album, which is a lot for normal albums but with 18 songs on the album that turns into a sad percentage. Overall, I just don’t see the benefit in releasing a concept album; BMAN is probably good for the genre but not good as an album.