Tuesday 18 December 2012

Death Of The Neighbourhood - DOTN REDUX

Album review by KevW

It's been a strange and varied musical career for Stephen Jones (not to mention publishing a couple of novels) that's taken him from bedroom recordings to low-key releases as Baby Bird that created enough of a buzz that he turned the project into a proper band, losing the gap, as Babybird and achieved top ten success with the ubiquitous 'You're Gorgeous'. Those early albums changed hands for a considerable amount of money at the time, but despite this initial post-Britpop success interest began to wane, meaning than many people will have missed out on such indie-pop gems as 'Out Of Sight' and 'Fireflies'. Since then he's retreated back to the underground, releasing home-recordings and working on film scores as well as the less commercially targeted Death Of The Neighbourhood project which began in 2008.

Released just in time for Christmas and opening with the unseasonably-titled 'God's Not Coming' it's apparent that it's in this lo-fi world he intends to remain, although it is a catchy little number. So while we may not be hearing from our lord and Saviour anytime soon, it's reassuring to know that one king will be back. 'Elvis Is Coming' is a mysterious piece of floating dreampop with disembodied voices like those that ghost hunters capture on EVP along with Elvis-style "hey hey heys". Beats tick, vocals come and go and the album has the feel of a swirling mist of sounds more than a collection of songs. That soundtrack work creeps in on short mood pieces like 'Kill What You Love' and 'Lost Youth III'. There are haunting numbers that could be early Flaming Lips tracks, 'Forgot To Take My Drugs' being a particularly ethereal example. 'Dumb Down' has a wonderful, twisted dreamlike quality and the sample-loaded 'The Big Yellow M' is just plain creepy.

In 'DOTN REDUX' Jones has shown all the reasons why the indie world fell for those limited edition early albums and why many stuck with him through his period in the limelight and back to his more experimental ways again. This is a very gentle album where the vocals are often childlike ('I Love My TV'), the beats are programmed and simplistic and the music is faint and sparkly. Despite having bugger all to do with this time of year, the Christmas Eve release date is fitting. Firstly because the music is warm and twinkly, becoming festive entirely by accident, and secondly because it's being released in the week of the year that traditionally records less sales than others due to bank holidays and stores not being open. But then Jones knows his fans and they'll know about this album and will surely buy it regardless, and that's something they won't live to regret because 'DOTN REDUX' is gorgeous.

Death Of The Neighbourhood's website

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