If Peter Noone was American, his singing voice might be all but indistinguishable from that of Coke Belda. And the music that Herman’s Hermits made isn’t miles away from the chiming, la-la-la of Belda’s original tunes. On his fourth album — cleverly titled 4 – Belda steps away from the tribute approach of his last outing, focusing instead on the chiming ear candy of his own songs.
Belda wears his influences on his sleeve. You may remember Harry Nilsson’s “You Can’t Do That,” a tune in which Nilsson strung together a bunch of Beatles song titles to make an original song; for his trouble, Nilsson was named as “the Beatles’ favorite group.” Well, Belda’s done something similar with “Thank You, Paul,” a McCartney tribute.
But as the album progresses, it’s clear that Coke Belda has more on his mind. The creamy verses of “Another Day” (not the McCartney song) are contrasted with the soaring, rocking choruses. And that kind of contrast displays Belda’s skills as a songwriter and arranger. Those skills are showcased throughout the album. When he turns the volume down – as on “Believe” – he sounds like he’s writing songs left off of Wild Life. But then he rocks out with “Oh Why,” a simmering tune with a catchy synth riff. The soaring harmonies and high-energy midsection make it one of the album’s best tracks. “6×8 Basement” goes old-school and may remind some listeners of John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over.” 4 is one fine record.