Neils Children: Dimly Lit – album reviewAlbum Review

Neils Children: Dimly Lit (Boudoir Moderne)

DL / Vinyl

Out Now

Back from the dead, the UK’s most under-rated experimental psych-pop band release contender for album of the year, or so says Ged Babey

In 2006 Neils Children looked like stickmen gonks with geometric hair and angular tunes and sounded like a cross between the Cure and Scars in 1979. I loved them.

Neils Children had been around, in the shadows since 1999. They were part of the Southend scene that brought the world the Horrors. They were hipsters and skinny-black-jeans psych-cum post-punk noiseniks before it became fashionable again. Their sharp cheekbones and thatch-haircuts were on the pages of the NME and in Artrocker and they had a small-but-loyal fanbase spread worldwide; hopspots being London, Southend and Japan. They never broke through, despite releasing amazing records and eventually they split up.

I loved their music; and in the same way as Savages sound-like-their-influences but-bring-something new and fresh to the table. NC3 reminded me of the Scars, initially, then the Cure (Faith/Pornography era) then Josef K. Heavy lopsided drumming cavernous basslines and sharp, astringent guitar, a dubby-echo and a psych haze. Introvertion/sociopathy manifested itself in the lyricism, but the sound of the band was what was the thing, developing on what Scars sounded like between Adul(ery)/Horrorshow and Author! Author! Adding some Pil and Pornography.

After a few years off, they reformed. A brave new start, a new sound, still influenced by the past yet still sounding like future. Keyboards and a Krautrock, psych sound influenced by the band Broadcast

Dimly Lit is beautiful cinematic psychedlia. Again, in the same way as Savages are written about in terms of their influences and how they absorb, adapt and re-configure them, NC are reinterpretors of the past and predictors of the future, making stimulating music in the here and now. Which translates as combining the influences of prime The Cure & Broadcast with Roy Budd (of Get Carter theme fame) and Syd Barrett sounds fuckin’ amazin’ and futuristically now.

As discussed with Dahlia FX psychedelia doesn’t explicitally mean druggy/stoned-sounding and Neils Children are no exception, yet seem to have an almost clinical but cinematic psychedlic feel. I can easily see them going for arty soundtrack work like Barry Adamson.

I remember reading something John Linger said in an interview years and years back about falling asleep whilst listening to music and the 10 20 or 30 seconds you get before, or as you fall into a deep, deep sleep you get a weird wide-angled clear awareness of the music, as if it were being played in a vacuum,,, its trippy. That is the sound he tries to get with Neils children.

The sounds on Dimly Lit are like those clunky old organs where you had buttons to get clarinet, oboe or various sounds The ones used are the woodiest and warmest. The plunking bass has a hollow wooden sound too. And then there is a sort of glockenspiel and harsichord sounds in the Roy Budd in Dub mix.

The lyrics are still bleak and yearning and strangely cold yet soulful.

“There must be more to life than this… / You must want more from your life than this.”

Well, all I want at the moment is to sit back in a darkened room and listen to this, a definite contender for album of the year in my opinion.

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All words by Ged Babey. Find more by him here.

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Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.


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