Neils Children – Dimly Lit (Boudoir Moderne)
CD /DL / LP
We’ve already given you one review of the new Neils Children album (read what Guy Babey said about it here) and now Joe Whyte has his say.
Having relocated to Toulouse, France from the less sunny climes of Harlow, Essex and now a trimmed down two-piece (mostly) studio project, Neils Children continue their odyssey through Euro-inspired psychedelia.
Originating from the same Southend scene and The Junk Club that hatched The Horrors, Neils Children evolved out of a mod- influenced traditional band to become the trippy, pastoral explorers that this new album heralds.
Their previously guitar-led sound hasn’t quite been discarded; simply, they’ve added Mellotron, Hammond organ, studio loops and all manner of other sounds and trickery to mind-bending, lysergic effect.
John Linger on vocals and guitar writes most of the material. Brandon Jacobs plays drums and together they’ve created an album that is one of those rare things in these disposable days; a grower.
On first listening, Dimly Lit is a lilting, bittersweet piece of very English whimsy. On repeated plays, it’s clear that the depth and gravitas inherent in the songwriting is quite something else.
Opener At A Gentle Pace is very much indicative of what’s to come; Linger’s languid vocals atop a beautifully textured and played, multitracked dreamscape with Jacob’s loping rhythm driving along.
Linger’s vocals are very much an acquired taste; on early hearing he sounds that little bit “off” but they very quickly become part of the experience, hypnotic, dreamy and absolutely right.
I was reminded a little of that other south coast enigma, Electric Soft Parade who travelled a similar route through pop/psych via indie rock and beyond. The quality of songwriting is of the same high standard and the ever-so-slightly druggy vibe is never far away.
There’s an element of rapier-sharp pop smarts too; title track Dimly Lit takes up residence in the brain quickly and refuses to leave.
Citing influences such as Stereolab and Silver Apples, Neils Children are way beyond the standard lumpen hoards of dull indie-rockers. This is music for dark, desperate nights as well as sun-kissed summer days. Taking the template from the lava lamp-lit bedsits of 60’s Cambridge, the Euro-torch of Francois Hardy and the post-punk neurosis of early eighties Britain, Neils Children are that rare thing; a band that’s difficult to pigeonhole.
Warm Wave is the central song on the album; cascading analogue synths, vintage valve-amp bite and those mind-twisting vocals.
The band play live dates in the UK and beyond following the release in June: don’t miss them.
You can find out more about Neils Children on their website.
All words by Joe Whyte. You can read more from Joe on LTW here.