Neon Blonde is a prime example of how a side-project can be every bit as unique and edgy as the real band. The Blood Brothers are undoubtedly (at least in this author's opinion) one of the most exciting bands to emerge in the last decade in the bloated punk/post-punk rock underground. Aggressive, dangerous, and misanthropic to the point of absurdity, the satirical, abstract, and surreal acid trips the Blood Brothers deliver are the stuff of spastic dreams.
Neon Blonde will throw some for a loop; the band is Johnny Whitney singing and guitaring, while drummer Mark Gajadhar shows up out of the blue to beat the skins. This gruesome two-some come across as lighter and generally a bit more focused on hyper, groovy, and angular riffs that fit in with many an art or prog band. The lyrics, however, still maintain that sinister flair for pop-culture skewering that the Blood Brothers have had since day one.
Chandeliers in the Savannah makes such a great album as it takes the best aspects of the Blood Brothers and adds elements not present in that kind of music at all. At a length of just over thirty-four minutes, the disc flys by and presents few if any weak spots. "Black Cactus Killers" sounds like a solid Blood Brothers B-side that just barely missed the cut.
The nonsensical lyrics, grooving acid rock riffs, and an odd moment of cocaine-addled dancing interludes make for a grand opener. "Crystal Beaches Never Turned Me On" starts off a little shakey; the ominous key tones and odd piano progressions are paired with clownish, over-the-top vocals and a swinging chorus that almost comes across as Latin music inspired. The song's grim narrative and Whitney's stark cliffhanger of "Cut, Cut to a Commercial" sounds so much like prime Johnny Rotten it might catch a few folks off guard.
"Chandeliers and Vines" is a misanthropic rant against the news, pop culture, MTV, overpopulation, luxury housing, sitcoms, and pretty much anything else. The song's operatic piano balladry, fantastic ravings, and soaring choruses make this the best track here; it is so far removed from what one considers to be in the cannon of Blood Brothers it is rather jolting, and it seems Neon Blonde would make a marvelous social protest band.
The trippy LSD tangos of "Princess Skullface Sings" should get plenty of people rocking and raving, and the following song, "New Detroit," mixes spacey and psychedelic folk intros with hypnotic walls of sonic assault for an entertaining concoction. "Headlines" is an obscene mix of electronica-inspired drum beats and crystalline, hollow, 80's keys.
"Love Hounds" is another stellar track, as it fuses a cushion of prickly yet ethereal pop with some odd guitar parts and screeching sing-alongs. The messy (in a good way) "Dead Mellotron" maintains a frantic lucidity of barely cohesive musical chaos.
"Cherries in Slow Motion" is a grandiose piece of mocking piano balladry, in which Whitney proudly sneers "The Devil just keeps on playing my song." "The Future is a Mesh Stallion" has an almost hip-hop worthy beat behind it; its an odd and perverse little slice of insanity to be sure. "Wings Made out of Noise" closes the album with a bastard conglomerate of Postal Service beats and detached guitars.
All-in-all, Neon Blonde astonishes by giving the ethos of the Blood Brothers a little more heart. I realize that many people foolishly miss the thought-producing messages within the music of the Blood Brothers simply because it is too frenetic and chaotic for their tastes. Artsy, catchy, but never anywhere near the Hell of conformity, Neon Blonde impress with a fantastic album of post-modernist rants and raves that pretty much anyone could enjoy a song or two on. Bloody fantastic!