The synthesis of diverse musical minds and heritages towards a common objective of aural exploration and unison has resulted in collaborations bringing about many anomalous objectives and conclusions.
With this in mind, Neon Neon’s ‘Stainless Style’ is of no exception: fused by thought and inspiration, Los Angeles-based musician and beat-technician Boom Bip’ (Brian Hollon) alliance with Gruff Rhys, solo artist and front man of the Welsh psych-poppers Super Furry Animals, has given birth to a conceptually themed album around the life and times of the world’s fist playboy engineer, John DeLorean.
The outcome is a highly imaginative celebration of euphoric simple pop, detailing the rise and fall of the protagonist’s eponymous empire. A rara avis for his time, DeLorean was made infamous for the production of the Pontiac GTO muscle car, the DeLorean DMC-12 sports car – made illustrious by the Back to the Future trilogy – and his high profile arrest on drug trafficking charges after losing his fortune.
‘Stainless Style’ oozes with the nostalgic tendencies that the Eighties were ultimately made famous for: romanticism, capitalism and the emergence of electronica. Opener ‘Neon Theme’ cascades sonically to the tune of esoteric 8-bit electronic waves and whirls before giving way to ‘Dream Cars’ – a veritable array of lustful dusty beats backed with Rhys’ Annie Lennox-esque wistful vocals upon the chorus, “Dream girls in cool cars / Cool girls in dream cars.”
Apart from its obvious deviations and resulting impairments (‘Trick For Treat’ and ‘Sweat Shop’ employ poor trip-hop narratives that are nothing short of an experimental faux pas), which blur its electronic kaleidoscope of auditory chic, they are worth enduring to savour the likes of ‘Raquel’, ‘I Lust U’ and ‘Belfast’ for their sumptuous blend of downbeat Human League-style art-pop playfulness, and upbeat Kraftwerk industrial structuralism.
The album on a whole is as reflective as it is indulgent in its influences, crooning with the authenticity that transcends the decades from its origin. Boom Bip’ structured analogue synths and palpating beats quiver at hands of Rhys’ breezy vocals with heavenly effect, swooping effortlessly together under a halo of harmonies.
For Rhys, Neon Neon has emancipated his talents, showing strength in his creativity and adaptability much to the same effect as Damon Albarn’s change of direction with the Gorillaz demonstrated, however, ‘Stainless Style’ itself peaks and falters musically as did DeLorean’s career; a superbly crafted conceptual think-tank, yet, in retrospect, it is not without its foibles.