Neutrals

Reviews

Neutrals Bus Stop Nights EP

If 2020’s Personal Computing 7” was NEUTRALS wearing their Ed Ball/TELEVISION PERSONALITIES influence on their sleeves, this four-song EP has them erecting a full-blown shrine. The title track kicks off the record, and from the jump you’re not only getting a riff borrowed from “World of Pauline Lewis,” but also a very similar guitar tone—it’s cleaner, brighter, and more sustained than what we’ve heard from these folks in the past. The production is maybe a little slick (which is true of the whole record) and the tune is a little poppier than you’d get from Dan Treacy and co., but the songwriting is still fantastic. It reminds me of a less ramshackle version of the stuff SO COW was putting out in the late aughts. Now, the following track, “Geoffrey Ingram”…I mean, “Gary Borthwick Says,” is a real hit! It’s a super catchy number recounting the exploits of a truth-stretching scamp that seems to combine everything great about …And Don’t the Kids Just Love It into one song. It alone is worth the price of admission! “Pressures of Life” is a good reminder that UK DIY and indie pop have more in common with Oi! than you’d generally think—just listen to that chorus kick in and tell me you can’t hear it as COCKNEY REJECTS-ish shout-along. The record closes with “New Town Dream,” which mixes in some of the post-punk brutishness you got on their fantastic Rent/Your House EP. I kinda wish there was a little more of that throughout the release, but I understand why there isn’t. Anyway, great record—definitely worth your time!

Neutrals Personal Computing / In the Future 7″

There are worse forms of escape from these dire times than retreating into the warm embrace of vintage computer magazines. That’s how Oakland’s NEUTRALS return from their Kebab Disco LP, this time with a bit more in the way of vocal harmonies that strongly resemble TELEVISION PERSONALITIES. It’s nice to hear them developing their craft with a more thick and resonant guitar and tight songwriting that brings a sort of 20th-century optimism about the future: world peace, flying cars, and geodesic domes. That may not sound very punk, but I had this on repeat in full indulgence of their retro utopia.

Neutrals Rent/Your House EP

I will get straight to it: NEUTRALS nail it here! The centerpiece tunes are all crisp guitar shocks, thematically serving as a “State of the Bay” address (though equally applicable for any urban locale), detailing the frustrations of paying impossible rents while being utterly surrounded by brutal, punishing assholes. “N.O. 1982″ shows more mod-punk influence than any tune I’ve heard from them thus far (sayin’ somethin’), even as it rallies against retro-centric ideals. Also…an EXPLOITED cover? Bold move, but totally victorious! NEUTRALS cram more thought and passion into this short-form set than most peers could hope for in an album. Proceeds from sales donated to both Border Angels and The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, which quite obviously rules as well.  Very highly recommended.

Neutrals Kebab Disco LP

What is there to say about a record that somehow evokes the view from a teenage bedroom in some Scottish new town circa 1982 at the same time as a modern mall food court in modern-day San Francisco? Tightly wound sounds formed in the nucleus of UKDIY and the post-JAM mod revival—the music is nostalgic: painting a picture of youth trying to escape a drab existence thru art school or technical college, dreaming of Italian adventures as their friends become motorcycle cops and hippies park their BMWs where their revolutionary dreams once were. This record is a crafty cigarette in a stairway outside an indie disco that plays STRETCHEADS into SHOP ASSISTANTS. This record bridges Glasgow in some mystical undetermined past with San Francisco in a very non-nostalgic present. Allan McNaughton’s very distinctive vocals will sound familiar to fans of GIANT HAYSTACKS and AIRFIX KITS, but this record has less of a D BOON paint coat than those groups, and more of an UNDERTONES 45s and cheap charity shop parka glow. Comes with a super sick lyric booklet, which is a true visual delight. Recommended!