Album Review: ‘0151’ by The Night Café
Formed in 2014 at a secondary school in Liverpool (and named after a Van Gough painting), the Night Café have matured along with its members.
Fast forward five years later to 2019, and the band have released their debut album 0151 and announced a headline tour across the UK.
Their debut album follows a string of previous EPs - ‘Get Away from The Feeling’ (2017) and the more recent ‘Bunkbed’ (2018), and yet it has a distinctly more personal title which references their hometown Liverpool.
It is a sentimental reminder of where they came from as they grow as artists, and this element of growth is interwoven into their album through its exploration of emotional experiences.
‘0151’ has a clear indie-pop vibe, yet despite the band having a range of influences, including Title Fight and Kings of Leon, their sound is distinctively Night Café-ish; hear it and you instantly know it’s them.
This is what makes their album so successful – they are building their own sound.
Yet the album dabbles in more experimental, electronic tones with ‘Breathing In’ and the aptly named ‘0151 Intro’.
And introduce it does…We get to hear a calming two-minute interlude of electronic synths and a subtle digital remix of ‘Finders Keepers’, which bleeds seamlessly into the original version.
It is the calm before the storm, figuratively speaking, as it sets the scene for 17 tracks about the highs and lows of experiencing love, loss and self-worth.
The album has two main themes: Mental health and love.
‘Finders Keepers’ is a tale of lost love, kept apart by busy schedules, shown in lyrics like:
“I don’t get time, I’m never round”.
The vocal range gives the song an element of longing as Sean Martin’s low tones clash with the upbeat backing music, making the listener feel the hope of falling in love merge with the realisation that it just won’t work with:
“Today I should have found a whole new beginning”.
They manage to take an emotion that the majority of us have felt at some point in our lives and turn it into a song that indeed makes us feel like we aren’t the only ones (if you didn’t understand that, check out the song. In-fact, check it out anyway).
‘Felicity’, a more upbeat song, is a modern-day love story sure to get listeners moving.
The track is pure, about a love so real that it heals, with lines like:
“Felicity your smile, does it make you feel better, that it holds me together”.
It sends an important message to never underestimate the joy that positivity from friends and family can bring if you’re feeling under the weather.
If you’re looking for a feel-good song, this is it.
‘Please’ envelops listeners with a feeling of loving someone but the feeling goes unreciprocated. It’s a feeling many of us have experienced, and musically demonstrates the frustration of the situation.
The song tells of a distance created by the worsening mental health of the protagonist and how it influences the relationship with their partner.
The lyrics are a piece of eye opening penmanship such as when they state:
“I didn’t mean to shut you out, I get stuck I can’t open my mouth”.
It is a plea to be loved in the darkest times, highlighting how love aids recovery.
Mental health is important to the band and they have used their platform to express it in their songs.
At the core of the album, there is a storyline portraying how life’s hardships influence the relationship between two lovers, which makes it an enticing album to listen to as it explores different emotions of being in love and then have it collapse.
Their songs ‘Mixed Signals’ and ‘Strange Clothes’ are the ultimate summer anthems.
Easily recognisable as The Night Café’s songs by the signature fast guitar riffs, they are songs that get you grooving.
The band have a talent for contrasting sad lyrics with positive sounding beats - with ‘Mixed Signals’ being about a deteriorating relationship - and this is part of the band’s charm.
When listening to ‘Addicted’, you can’t help but feel light and breezy; it is a sweet song about falling in love with someone so much that you can’t be without them, complete with uplifting beats.
If you’re looking to get in a good mood, listen to ‘Addicted’.
‘I’m Fine’ explores how mental illness can influence social aspects of life, an important subject to cover, and it’s amazing how they have managed to transform their feelings into a song - highlighting their immense talent for song writing. The chorus chants:
“My heart’s racing…wondering if they hate me or I’m just deep in my mind”.
A very real feeling for somebody struggling with anxiety or depression.
The depth of coverage that the album gives to mental health is educational for people who have not experienced mental illness and a recognition for people who have.
It not only brings the subject to the attention of the listener but gives them a first-person perspective of what it’s like to live with it.
The concluding songs explore recovery, ending the album on a message of hope that, even after all that you have gone through, there is light at the end of the tunnel. This is what makes it such a beautiful album – it’s not just about the hardships and the lost love, its about letting yourself heal and telling yourself that it is okay to do so.
‘A Message To Myself’ is arguably the gentlest song on the album, with just an acoustic guitar for backing.
The songs’ stripped back nature compliments the lyrics, which are simple and repetitive and yet they hold so much meaning due to the pure emotion of Martin’s singing, making it a beautiful track. He sings:
“Take care of myself, I need to love myself”.
A clear nod to the first step of recovery; there is recognition that, to get better, you mustn’t be too hard on yourself.
The song is remixed into ‘Take Care, Pt. 1’, which is a symbolic repetition as it reiterates the importance of learning to be kind to yourself.
The song has a deliberately steady tempo, mimicking the often slow recovery from a mental illness.
Ending on a phone call between to two Scousers (of course!), it reiterates the importance of communication when in recovery.
‘I Know I’m Sure’ carries the same message and gentle sound, helping those suffering with a mental illness realise that their problem is valid.
The song breaks the pattern of the sufferer feeling like their problem isn’t worth talking about and reiterates the importance of communication with lyrics like:
“Love is all you need when the struggle is all you see”.
The lyrical composition of the song is a poetic work of art, with the accompanying music mimicking the steady pace of getting better.
The track has a low tone and a hopeful beat, with the chiming bell being a constant sound that represents the beating heart of recovery.
The song aptly ends with the lyrics:
“Everything will work its way out, I know I’m sure”.
Leaving listeners with a reassurance that they are not alone in their struggles.
The album ends on a song in the “love” category of the collection, with ‘Leave Me Alone’, a song about deteriorating love in which they do not want to be with their partner but do not want to let them go – a scenario that resonates with many listeners I’m sure.
This one is less gentle, creating a scene of emotional chaos as it wraps up the relationship and fittingly wraps up the album.
It sends the message that sometimes things don’t work out, but as they say in their song, you have to wait patiently until the “bitter end turned sweet”.
The album packs a heavy punch for listeners, but the messages it delivers are crucial as a healing aid for those who need it, both with their mental health and within failing relationships.
The Night Café manage to successfully do this with an amazing sound attached to it, making it an album that must be listened to.