The idea of the supergroup is as old and tired as the history of rock & roll itself. From the Million Dollar Quartet to the Traveling Wilburys, and on and on, the gathering of a few vaunted musicians is usually trumpeted as nothing short of a revelation. Hence the name "super" itself. Usually, it ends up being just a half-baked excuse to hang out and jam -- very rarely does anything much good come from these projects. That makes BNQT an enjoyable aberration, and their Volume 1 album from 2017 is a snapshot of late-decade indie pop and rock at its best. Midlake's Eric Pulido is the ringleader; the rest of Midlake forms the backbone and a cast of big-shot vocalists deliver the lyrical and melodic goods. Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos, Band of Horses' Ben Bridwell, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, and Travis frontman Fran Healy join Pulido by contributing two songs apiece, and each of them bring their A game. It's tempting to take each writer's contributions and pit them against each other's to see who did what best, but really, what's nice about the album is how well the tracks all fit together, even though they all have intrinsic differences. Part of this is down to having the Midlake guys as the backing band on each song, the rest is down to Pulido's skills as a ringleader. It sounds like the work of one band with five singers, even when the tracks are as different as Pulido's stomping glam rock opener "Restart," Kapranos' evil-sounding ballad "Hey Banana," or Bridwell's rambling '70s rock jam "Tara." Pulido layers in loads of strings and horns throughout the record, giving it a widescreen, epic feel at times while still letting the singers' idiosyncrasies come through clearly. Some tracks are pure soft rock gold, like Bridwell's "Unlikely Force," some are orchestral ballads, like Lytle's "Failing at Feeling," and there's even a track that sounds like a loose and limber Wilburys' track, Pulido's "Real Love." It's a remarkably coherent and listenable album that goes down very smooth, but not without the occasional moment of real emotion or foot-tapping fun. Credit Pulido for making this group truly super and the album one of the best "super" group efforts imaginable.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra