In the sparse but on point promo materials for classically trained Julliard grad turned synth pop rocker Noah Hoffeld’s endlessly intriguing (both sonically and lyrically) latest album Mobile Home, we not only learn that David Bowie was a major influence, but also that he co-produced it with longtime Bowie co-producer Mark Plati.
So if we may be so bold, let’s call the collection what it is – the playful, sometimes romantic, always thought-provoking, sonically inventive and deeply, deeply spiritual album Bowie forgot to create. While vocally, lyrically and tonally it’s offbeat Bowie-esque, Hoffeld’s hardly a clone. He brings his own sonic aesthetic to the mix, as steeped in his classical upbringing and Julliard training as it is in otherworldly Gary Numan-esque synth adventures.
As fresh and unpredictable as the music is from track to track, it’s really Hoffeld’s cleverly infectious wordplay and storytelling intrigue that keeps us hanging. Aspiring lyricists, just try to top this kind of fanciful alliteration: “Billions of beautiful Buddha Babies.” What does that phrase mean? In the context of the Garden of Eden gone awry, semi-veiled trippy and spaced out commentary about how we’re contributing to global warming, it’s our rescue plan.
See, in Hoffeld’s world, these babies are our salvation who can save the flower race (us, presumably) and radiate the grace we need to get through. The synthy spiritual sparkle continues on the buoyant and hypnotic “Mobile Home,” which urges us, as passengers on this mobile home of a planet to take good care of it. Just when we think the album’s going to be all some wild, galactical journey using metaphors to make sociopolitical points, Hoffeld shares his tender romantic side on gems like the wonder-filled, piano tinged ballads “Never Been in Love” (a personal account) and “Born to Love,” which takes a hopeful, God’s eye view of humanity.
In a time of divisiveness, confusion and collective anxiety coming out of the pandemic, ultimately what Hoffeld offers in his own offbeat way is hope. Hope that there are “Angels Above” watching and helping us (and rockin’ ever so slightly). Hope that despite our country’s countless problems, we can still find pride that we were “Born For America.” And on what is perhaps the album’s most fun and frothy number, a bit of optimism that we can get through “Thick and Thin” in our eternal quest for harmony.
As the singer’s journey leads us forward, he makes us ponder? Is the answer to our prayers a realm transfer to “Blue City,” a place behind your mind, beyond space, beyond time? Or as Mobile Home’s bustling, chaotic bonus cut “This Morning” postulates, is the answer to simply ask ourselves each day, as we contemplate the suffering around us, “How can we help this world this morning?”