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Neon Neon - Stainless Style

Neon Neon, Stainless Style

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

NEON Neon is a new partnership between LA-based producer Boom Bip and Super Furry Animals main man Gruff Rhys. It is for Rhys what, I guess, Gorillaz is for Damon Albarn. Both impress in different ways.

Whereas Gorillaz material has been very mainstream, Neon Neon is a little more off-kilter. It’s going to be one of the trendiest cuts of the year to say you’ve discovered. But it doesn’t entirely convince, perhaps because it’s too knowingly cheesy in pursuit of its ’80s influence.

Lead single I Lust U was a belter that set up some very high expectations. Built around an insistent electro power-pop pulse, it boasted distinctly ’80s sensibilities wrapped around something hip and contemporary. The female vocals that begin proceedings are vaguely robotic and strangely seductive (especially when delivering lines “yes I love you if the price is right”), while Rhys’ distinct tones work well in tandem with them. The insistent electronic hook had your toes effortlessly tapping along.

Regrettably, the remainder of the album struggles to hit such heights. It’s often quite good but it never quite blows you away, even though you can’t help but admire the scope of its ambition (we’ll come to that later).

Tracks like Sweat Shop sound more like something Snoop Dogg or Pharrell might produce rather than the man behind the Super Furrys, and the grinding beat and repetitive vocals are all too familiar to the mainstream rap scene that has one too many tracks like this. The sexy “oohing” and “aahing” of its female vocalists also sounds odd when set against the context of the theme of the song (ie, sweat shops).

Trick For Treat fades quickly from memory amid an odd mix of falsetto verses and rapped choruses, while Michael Douglas doesn’t entirely convince either, despite a lively chorus.

When the album works, however, it really does click. Dream Cars is an instant favourite that really does tap into the whole concept behind the album: the rise and fall of automobile exec John DeLorean, whose creations included that Back To The Future iconic car. It’s fun, snappy and effortlessly hip, with Rhys’ vocals especially effective. The ’80s effect is less forced too, unlike the track that immediately follows I Told Her On Alderaan, which feels ripped from the soundtrack of St Elmos Fire or something.

Raquel works quite well, in spite of the Whitney Houston beats, but Steal Your Girl is a really good effort that again isn’t caught trying to be too ’80s, and there’s a wonderfully spaced out, trippy quality surrounding short final track Stainless Style.

But the lasting impression is that Neon Neon have delivered an album that’s fun and ambitious in concept but one that pushes its appeal to some pretty testing limits. As a result, it’s probably best to be sampled in small doses.

Download picks: I Lust U, Dream Cars, Raquel, Steal Your Girl, Stainless Style

Track listing:

  1. Neon Theme
  2. Dream Cars
  3. I Told Her On Alderaan
  4. Raquel
  5. Trick For Treat – Feat. Spank Rock & Sean Tillmann
  6. Steel Your Girl
  7. I Lust U – Feat. Cate Le Bon
  8. Sweat Shop – Feat. Yo Majesty
  9. Belfast
  10. Michael Douglas
  11. Luxury Pool – Feat. Fatlip
  12. Stainless Style

  1. Wrong. I Told Her on Alderaan is an instant classic, a track that would be perfectly at home on a 80’s teen flick soundtrack and yet sounds fresh and new. Trick For Treat isn’t forgettable at all. It doesn’t necessarily fit in with the rest of the feel of the album (neither does Sweat Shop or Luxury Pool, although they are excellent tracks as well), but it is still memorable and as good as anything on Spank Rock’s fabulous 2006 debut. Most critics have been positive about Stainless Style, but no one has given it the props it clearly deserves. This is up there with Elbow and Cadence Weapon as the finest albums so far this year and I can’t imagine too many albums will eclipse it over the next nine months.

    matt allen    Mar 20    #