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Stainless Style

Neon Neon

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Album Review

Reduced to a cold, hard synopsis, Neon Neon's Stainless Style sounds like a joke. A collaboration between Super Furry Animals singer/songwriter Gruff Rhys and Los Angeles underground hip-hop/electronic producer Boom Bip, Neon Neon sounds like an unlikely pair on paper and they've made their partnership even stranger by creating a concept album about John DeLorean, the automobile industry maverick who was as notorious for his futuristic designs as for his 1982 arrest for drug trafficking, a charge he later beat yet which gave him a stigma he couldn't shake. It's a quintessential '80s tragedy which provides Neon Neon an opportunity to craft a quintessentially '80s tribute, something they deliver with startling accuracy on Stainless Style. Apart from the cuts where Spank Rock, Yo Majesty and Fatlip are brought in — their presence dictates a harder, modern production from Boom Bip — the album is so precise in its re-creation of the gleaming glitz of the go-go Reaganomics era that it could be mistaken as a relic from 1983, but the remarkable thing about Stainless Style is that there's not a sliver of irony underneath the cold shimmer of all of its analog synths and chorused, echoed guitars. There is humor here — sly, knowing humor, as there should be with offhand references to Star Wars, Raquel Welch and Michael Douglas, along with deliberate allusions to early electro and tight, tuneful new wave pop — but this isn't camp, as there's a surprising melancholy flowing beneath the transparently shallow surfaces on "I Told Her on Alderaan" and "Raquel." Even with those trace elements of sadness, Stainless Style is hardly a heavy album: there's just enough weariness to the music to give it emotional pull, but the chief attraction of this tight 12-track concept album is how Neon Neon has created an album that isn't so much a straight-up replica of '80s excess as one that puts all of that indulgence into perspective, both emotionally and musically.


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A collaboration between Super Furry Animal's Gruff Rhys and left-field hip-hop producer Boom Bip — who first worked together in 2005 when Rhys added vocals to "Do's & Don'ts" from Boom Bip's Blue Eyed in the Red Room — Neon Neon play warm, dancey music informed by '80s new wave, Prince, and Kraftwerk, among others, while also calling on the contributions of artists like Spank Rock, Yo Majesty, Har Mar Superstar, and the Magic Numbers to fill out their sound. They began recording their...
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Stainless Style, Neon Neon
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