Neon Blonde

Chandeliers in the Savannah

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Although Neon Blonde's Headlines EP showed that Johnny Whitney and Mark Gajadhar's side project could sound like the Blood Brothers while also sounding very little like them, it still wasn't adequate preparation for the crazed inventiveness of their full-length debut, Chandeliers in the Savannah. A glittering, sharp-edged magpie's nest of fractured glam, hip-hop, electronica, pop, Blood Brothers-style fury and whatever else caught the band's fancy, the album is an example of how to build something beautifully ugly out of trash. While Chandeliers in the Savannah's opening track, "Black Cactus Killers," could belong to the Blood Brothers, it quickly gets weirder and more eclectic from there, spanning the equally melodic and chaotic "Crystal Beaches Never Turned Me On" and the glammy, flamboyant piano ballad "Chandeliers and Vines" with blatant disregard for niceties like logic and continuity. Though tracks like "Princess Skullface Sings" lean towards danceppunk, the sound and approach are far more punk than dance, no matter how many drum machines and keyboards Neon Blonde tortured to make Chandeliers in the Savannah. Actually, the album is a lot less blatantly electronic than Headlines suggested it might be (although "Headlines" itself is still one of the highlights here). "New Detroit" starts out as a bouncy, acoustic singalong to urban decay before turning ferociously electric, while "Cherries in Slow Motion" teeters between a nasty tango and waltz. The little bits of pretty melodies that pop up almost every track on Chandeliers in the Savannah only make the album stranger: "Love Hounds"' chorus is downright lush, and the silky guitars on "The Future Is a Mesh Stallion" are wonderfully out-of-place with the song's hip-hop-inspired drum beats and synths. Likewise, "Wings Made Out of Noise" pairs one of the prettiest melodies with some of the ugliest lyrics: "The note carved in her back said 'I want a baby wrapped in hundred dollar bills.'" Packed full of so much stuff that whizzes by so fast, Neon Blonde's music might be slower and more melodic than the Blood Brothers, but it's still a pretty wild listen. Chandeliers in the Savannah manages to do more than just show off Whitney and Gajadhar's range; while it's got enough perverse power to please Blood Brothers' fans, it's also interesting enough in its own right to win over listeners up for a challenge.

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