No Middle Name, or often sharply stylized as N()MN, is the solo project of songwriter David Bailey, previously noted as part of the indie rock band, The Title Sequence, who has a flair for messing really well with pop music, dreampop and shoegaze, and electronic sounds which he brilliantly sugarcoats in DIY and lo-fi aesthetics.
Fondness is the project's second full length so far and undoubtedly it collects the best facets of Bailey's songwriting. Sounding predominantly like a record that's somehow escaped from sometime in the early-to-mid nineties, the album feels more like the somber continuation of the legacy the britpop movement left behind when it died, rather than a nostalgic throwback to an old, previously beloved genre.
Like a marriage between the tear-jerking calmness of Belle And Sebastian (especially on the few tracks that feature the contribution of the charming female vocals by Samantha Whates), the writing wit of Pulp and the superlative coolness of The Divine Comedy, Fondness runs smoothly from start to finish like a good old traditional pop record and it includes many tracks to hang on to, like the majestic opening track, Love In Stereo Sound, which charmingly sets the tone for what's about to follow, the super memorable Reject Club and The Boy Before, and the singles Television Soul and Fading Photo.
Apart from it being mega-stylish and suggestive of stuff people used to really like, Fondness is a profoundly melodic record which also doesn't hold back on the reverb and the fuzz when the time comes to do so.
In a nutshell Fondness is a self-produced marvel of indie rock virtue and a pure British identity which would have reached much bigger audiences had it been released at the right time under the proper circumstances (meaning, in the nineties during the Cool Britannia craze), but at least now, at a time when it needs it the most, this fine record gets to grace the world with class and elegance.