NEON NEON - Stainless Style

Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys teams up with industrial dance producer Bryan 'Boom Bip' Hollon to concoct an electropop homage to the 1980s. Not just musically but culturally as this is a concept album about the rise and fall of car tycoon John DeLorean. And the DeLorean itself is a significant 1980s icon, immortalised in 'Back To The Future' and lately featured in 'Ashes To Ashes'. So cue a story of celebrity, power, girls, cars and 1980s greed.

If you don't get the irony of the whole venture you might just miss the point. But if you were weaned on New Order, Yazoo, Depeche Mode and the sauciness of early period Prince and the disco shennanigans of Bobby O and Miami Sound Machine then you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. It's a tongue in cheek pastiche of these and the soft rock bombast of Foreigner et al. It's a mash of swirling synths, sequencers and those lovely crashing synth drums that every 80s pop record swiped off Bowie's 'Low' and these are given a soulful caress with the smooth vocals from Rhys. It's a bubblegum electro fantasy that's so endearingly cheesy and yet sits comfortably alongside the likes of Daft Punk with its retro sound that catches power pop, library music and a 1980s 'lust for power'.

The only problems with it are the attempts to do hip-hop on 'Trick For Treat' and 'Luxury Pool'. It's not a musical form I particularly like and I can understand why the songs are done in this style as part of the 1980s conceptualisation but for me they don't work alongside such deliciously gorgeous pop delights as 'I Lust U' and 'Raquel'. The fall of the DeLorean empire is charted in the Numan-esque pop croon of 'Belfast' with its stabbing sequencers and swathes of analogue synths and the hilarious break with the 'nightmarish' keyboard sounds. "I Told Her On Alderaan" is all snares, spoken word and an insistent chorus whilst "Steel Your Girl", all nursery rhyme soft rock guitar and jittery synths and I couldn't suppress a guffaw at the squirmy "Michael Douglas" and its repetitious 'Michael Douglas, he's in sunglasses' refrain.

Neon Neon's 'Stainless Style' reflects an era and both pastiches and honours it consistently and as the very title suggests whilst we may think of the 1980s as all style and no substance both Rhys and Hollon have attempted to go beyond the superficiality by choosing DeLorean as their subject matter and an exemplar of where it all went wrong in that period. It's an eccentric, playful, often hilarious, album and those synths and snares are to die for.

Stainless Style - NEON NEON (LEX LEX067CD Released 17th March 2008)

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