Specialist Subject have released some of the best records of this year so far, this trend continues with the debut from Neurotic Fiction who between them have credentials all over alternative music. The record is inspired by post punk but not the dour post punk of The Fall or Joy Division instead the less visited opposite side of the coin in the form of the B52’s, Talking Heads and Devo.
Angular guitars twist and turn around prominent basslines and tight drums, creating a musical landscape full of meandering peaks and troughs. The vocals tie the whole thing together with an off kilter sweetness that is equal parts individual and infectious and within ‘Collateral’, the gang backing vocals start to propel this record even further by adding a contrast.
Within the musicianship hide vintage sounding guitars that could happily be at home in almost any era of rock music from The Beatles to modern power pop. ‘Warm Spirit’ is packed with sunshine surf vibes starting with the rolling bass line and feeding into the choppy warm guitars, once more the vocal completely binds everything. The accented delicacy has hints of Shampoo and the B52’s, there are two moments of musical wonder to continue the albums flow and development. The Shadow’s style guitar solo and the delightfully contrasting keys both take momentary focus from the vocal and combine to create an almost hazy feeling. It sounds ridiculous but I’m almost certain body temperature rises during this song.
As the record flows track to track there is a real summer holiday feeling, the sarcasm and dry wit within the lyrics create occasional authentic snarky moments and the musicianship develops into the feeling of stepping off a plane in a blisteringly hot country. As notes and instruments entangle themselves they create and almost shocking haze. Not every moment is full of sandy smiles, there are darker moments and when the pace drops there are some particularly haunting moods. Within ‘Meaning of LYF’ the guitars take the beachy feel diverts to the blistering heat of the desert. These subltle differences pour from the guitars which could transport the listener all over the world.
The timeless nature of this release creates something almost cinematic as the songs develop, it’s hard not to picture grainy sepia surf videos or cinematography to this effect. The rolling drums, twinkling guitars and the classic vocals combine the elements that make other releases sound different from their peers but Neurotic Fiction combine these intricacies into a sound even more individual. Modern comparisons to Happy Accidents‘ most alt pop vocals, a more positive take on the morbid Veronica Falls, Surfer Blood’s miraculous sense of warmth or American Enthusiasm’s guitar tone are there but there are comparisons to almost any era of music within this release.
As this record has arrived almost under the radar every element is surprising, the biggest surprise being one of the records of the year to date could so easily be missed. Pick up a copy from Specialist Subject immediately, please don’t miss out!