New Music: HEALTH and Neon Neon

Neon Neon is a group I've been following for a while, but sort of forgot about them until Sam Sparro released. Their new album--er, only album--is called Stainless Style.

I hate giving background information on artists and their work (that's what Wikipedia is for!), but the story of Stainless is just too singular to be skipped. So, two artist you've never heard of, but critics pretend to have heard of, got together and created a concept album about John DeLorean, an 80s icon that literally skyrocketed to greatness and had it all taken away in one fell swoop over a $1 million drug deal. I know you know what a DeLorean is.

Anyways, the entire album is based on his life and the decade that was 1980. I was born in the eighties, which is far better than being born in the nineties--in my opinion, the early nineties was one of the only tasteless times in American history--but the eighties are way overhyped by young culture nowadays. Reminds me of the dance group "Fannypack" on America's Next Dance Crew. They're like, "The 80s were all about self-expression and fun!" Um, no, the 80s were all about bad economies, failed plastic surgery, a thriving porn industry, the American caste system (you like Star Wars! YOU must be a nerd!), and the glamorization of hard drugs. I don't buy into the whole porn and drugs as self expression bit, either.

Neon Neon knows this, though, and Stainless reflects both the grit and the glitter of the eighties. I've only heard three or four songs on the album, so I'm not providing a full review, but the tracks I've heard are notable enough to be mentioned.

"I Lust You," the lead single off the album, is a heartbreaking lament on prostitution, goldiggers, and the American infatuation with riches. I know, for a three-minute song that's a lot of substance to cover; but, really, the lyrics are completely up to individual interpretation. "I love you/I love you if the price is right/and I curse you/curse you if the price is right." Cate Le Bon, another artist critics pretend to know, begins the track, eshewing any bit of irony in her vocals. The dynamic between Le Bon and the male vocalist is stunningly elegant--it's the kind of music you can't play at a party because everyone will stop to listen.

With an electronic melody reminscent of The Killer's "On Top" from Hot Fuss, along with a meandering tempo, "I Lust You" doesn't disappoint from a musical perspective, either. However, "Dream Cars," a critic's favorite, is far more original in its production. The horn-like bleeps and boops boom through the speakers at a volume far louder than anything else on the track, which gives the song a much-needed injection of modernity, while the vocalist gently sings about "cold girls in cold cars." As a representation of DeLorean's life, "Cars" is not as understated as "I Lust You," so it's a bit easier to understand. In a touch of brilliance, near the end of the track, there's a full three-second pause of silence--rather than burst back into melody with a full-blown instrumental set, a la Gwen Stefani's "Serious," which would add a definite pop sensibility, they only resurrect the most poignant sounds for the last thirty seconds.

HEALTH, some wierd electronic band that's thisclose to being too noisy to enjoy, has at least one really strong track on their new album, //Disco. "Glitter Pills (Toxic Avenger Remix)" is a disgustingly slick and modern cut with a synthesized beat than can only be called throbbing. Like The Faint at their best ("Glass Danse," "Your Retro Career Melted") combined with Death Cab for Cutie at their worst (all albums post-Transatlanticism), the instrumental track stops during the song to allow for some tedious little vocal nothings: "Blood dried/in our bodies." The lyrics (and their ghostly delivery) is not musically enjoyable. The rest of the album contains a bit more dialogue, I'm afraid, so I'm sticking to "Glitter" and that's it.

Another band I'm (kind of not) listening to is Crystal Castles, a duo that remixed the remixes on //Disco. (?) I bring up Crystal Castles because they're on a positive track for great music in the future. Production-wise, their EP single "Crimewave" is strong, with a sparse, overly-digitalized harmony and a phenomenal instrumental interlude every minute or so. If Crystal Castles can mix in a bit of pop with their production talents, I've no doubt they'll excel in the future. Sure, I get it, to sell records or conform to pop culture doesn't necessarily equal excellence--but as far as my listening pleasure, "Crimewave" is a long way from it at present.

I've downloaded the entire Simian Mobile Disco album, Attack Decay Sustain Release, finally, and I'll post more on it later. I've written on them before. SMD is my favorite electronic group in a year or so--they, like Sam Sparro (but to a lesser extent) combine commercial fizz with sick production, something neither HEALTH nor Crystal Castles have yet achieved.

1 comment:

Justin R. Wright said...

so, Neon Neon is a gem. major kudos for finding them. i downloaded the entire record (a rarity) and it's money well spent. thanks!