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Neon
Neon
V2 Records
www.neontheband.com


Oh dear, Neon's self-titled first album is that most difficult thing for a reviewer to deal with - a record that's just OK. What to say ? Much as I like this band's style of crunchy power pop, the record's just not distinctive enough for me to praise it to the skies. On the other hand, it's competent enough that I'm denied the perverse pleasure of giving it a good critical kicking and burying it in the nearest ditch.

Neon is a young Australian three-piece purveying guitar heavy tunes that aspire to the sweetness and the crunch of Smithereens, Posies or Cheap Trick. Now, Oz seems to have more than its fair share of great bands, from the Easybeats through Radio Birdman to the Triffids, Church, Go-Betweens, Augie March and beyond - you'd think a country built largely by exiled criminals would have a head start on rock & roll, after all - but I guess there have to be some exceptions to the rule (anyone remember Silverchair?)

The record has some appealing tunes, but they tend to be subsumed by the trite lyrics and over-eagerness of the players (especially singer Josh Bitmead, who sounds like he reeeeally wants to be from West Coast USA instead of New South Wales). The glossy production doesn't help, either, especially the suspicion that Bitmead's voice is being pitch corrected (the vocals have that same slightly metallic sound that is audible on pretty much any top 10 tune these days).

As is our policy here at Hybrid, I gave this quite a few listens before committing fingers to keyboard. Unfortunately, though, even songs like "Dizziness", which apparently made Single of the Week in the NME, sound to me like any number of tunes you might hear coming out of the doorway of Urban Outfitters. I can't understand why the major labels are signing this kind of thing when there is so much more exciting, original and inventive music out there - just read the reviews in these pages for evidence.

It's not that the Neon boys and girl don't have talent - the playing is good and they can write a good tune or two. But they really need to work on those lyrics, and develop a musical persona that will set them apart from all the other power pop wannabes of the moment.

-Gareth Bowles

Track listing:
1. A Man
2. Friend
3. Hit Me Again
4. Lapse in Conversation
5. Summer Rain
6. Dizziness
7. Happy Going Nowhere
8. People Inside
9. New Direction
10. All I want
11. Into Your Eyes
12. Everything


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