Neon Neon: Stainless Style

By: Dennis Cook

The razor blade chops hypnotically at a little mirror as champagne and nitrous finish off what remains of our resistance to the pre-dawn party vibe. This collaboration between Super Furry Animals singer-sonic architect Gruff Rhys onomatopoetically perfect producer Boom Bip (released March 18 by Lex Records) is the blow fueled Iliad of anachro-future electronica albums, full of punishly cool beats and squiggly vintage synths fueling a tale of hubris and the blind glee only those on top of the world possess.

While the story of automotive engineer and mogul John DeLorean might seem leftfield material for a concept album, the man behind the Pontiac GTO and the ride in Back To The Future (not to mention an infamous 1982 cocaine scandal) proves fertile ground for this pair and their inspired collaborators. The title cut shimmers with atmospheric choral bigness, asking, “Oh how many are my foes/ How many rise against me?” Later, the hook on “Trick For Treat” moans, “”She got me dreaming like a Michigan boy in Hollywood.” They tap into the American Dream’s bright and dark sides, the excess, pride and ego just as much part of it as the invention and healthy drive.

The atmosphere is what one imagines Prince’s bedroom circa 1984 might have been like – a carnal miasma full of head-snapping drums, ass motivating keyboard grooves, slinky-as-hell vocals, pheromones dripping off the walls and no small amount of confident lasciviousness. It’s a hitherto unknown side of Rhys and Boom Bip has never been more flucking fun. There hasn’t been a crazy dance floor grenade like “Sweat Shop” since the first Fannypack album dropped in 2003. “Racquel” and “Steel Your Girl” carry hints of A-Ha and the Psychedelic Furs, which turns out to be far more appealing than you might think. The sheer musicality and glossy swing they bring to things is pretty irresistible, and the added wattage of guests like Yo Majesty, Spank Rock and Cate Le Bon elevates this way above the pack of ’80s lovin’ albums out there. Neon Neon seems genuinely moved and inspired by the era and their chosen subject matter. The core integrity creates a faux club banger of near epic proportions.

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