Thursday, 6 June 2013

Neils Children - Dimly Lit

Album review by

The career of London psych-pop collective Neils Children has been a long and winding one that has taken in numerous band members, various record labels (including Alan McGee's short-lived Poptones imprint) and culminated in the surviving original members splitting the band in 2010, only for two of them to announce a reformation just a year later. This winter, the two remaining founders, John Linger and Brandon Jacobs set up camp in the south of France to begin work on what would become new album 'Dimly Lit'. With the promise of a more psychedelic, less punky sound and the addition of two new members (as part of the live set-up, not featured here), the band are now firmly back in business, albeit in an altered state.

Using the term "lysergic pop" and citing Stereolab and Broadcast as an influence, it was clear things would be a little different on this record, and this mainly manifests itself in the use of retro electronic equipment and analogue synths to lend a surprisingly modern bent to the album. But this is modern because of the current psych revival more than modern through them creating brand new sounds. The music here has a timeless quality and you can list the usual influences that go hand-in-hand with such releases, but ultimately this return (dare we use the term "comeback"?) hinges on the quality of the songs as much as the sound effects that they're generated from. Right from opener 'Edward The Confessor' they showcase a sound that mixes those time-honoured sounds with just a touch of punk energy and plenty of hints of various alternative guitar bands of the past few decades.

It's a format that works, and this is maybe why they don't stray too far from this blueprint. There are better songs: the title-track is a wonderful, buzzing, acid-fried indie number; the flower-powered 'The Way The Web Was Woven' is ace; 'Warm Wave' is spacey single material that's not too far removed from bands like Toy or Temples and the same could be said for 'Never Could Be Any Other Way'; 'Telling' is another upbeat and easily accessible track; 'Trust You' is another that could stand alone as a single... the list is almost endless, but when we finally reach the finale, the last duo of 'What's Held In My Hands' and 'At A Gentle Pace' don't let the side down. The main point of note about 'Dimly Lit' is just how consistent it is; even less immediate tracks like 'The Beat of the Boulevard' or 'Those You Thought Would, But Who Never Will Again' show plenty of invention and capture your heart in the end. The press release for this album trots out the usual blurb about how this is the band's best album so far. For once, the press release may be telling the truth.

Neil's Children's website

Buy the album

Catch them live:

Jun 10 London, GB
Jun 21 London, GB
Jul 13 London, GB

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