Neon Neon

Stainless Style

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AllMusic Review by

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.

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