German artist Neeon has released his debut LP Neeonovum just in time for the summer. It probably wasn’t in his best interest to release his album just moments after Daft Punk’s latest project, but as a much lower profile artist, listeners will hopefully forget to make the comparison. That being said, the music of Neeonovum is not something we’ve never heard before, but it’s something we don’t hear often enough. And when it comes to electro and synth-pop, we like when we hear someone do sequencers and and tape loops a little differently.
Neeonovum seems almost abbreviated only yielding 7 tracks, but with each, Neeon brings a lightly celestial, but thickly sensuous album furnished with fluidity and movement from start to finish. Neeon is almost hallowed with a pitch perfect voice suggestive of Cee Lo and Pharrell until his vibrato kicks and you realize his voice is so much better. His vocal range is almost too polished for the genre, as many artists simply rely on instrumental embellishment to mask mediocre vocal talents. Neeon sticks within the synth-pop framework and very much utilizes his production, but he finds the perfect balance between heavy instrumentals and a sometimes-sing, and when he needs to, he offers his voice—a husky, breathy and subtly enigmatic instrument that creates a sense of evocation to each track that calls for it.
Neeonovum opens up with “Mellow,” an intro based solely on instrumentals, that isn’t actually mellow at all because the chord regressions make the song too ornately beautiful. But “Mellow” does showcase a bit of talent. It’s a half dance track, half sit-back-and-smoke-a-cigarette track. Next is “Zero Gravity.” We guess that’s supposed to mean we’re supposed to feel at ease and like we’re floating, but again, we’re too busy dancing.
Not all of these songs work on their own, and would do better as Mia Moretti mixes. “Mr. Lovefool” is a perfect example. In a way, it’s the glue that holds the album together (maybe because it’s one of the only songs that sounds like an actual organized song), but it can’t stand alone for a full 3 minutes and 35 seconds and we’d still like to hear it as a mash-up.
The core of this album is that it’s for the dance. It even borrows some elements of disco. “Best Friend” takes us back to Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots.” “Fuck For Infiniti” is a little George Benson. But the beauty of what Neeon does is taking elements of an almost abandoned genre that pioneered dance music’s present, and flipping it to make it relevant. For this, Neeonovum is refreshing. Most of all, it’s something you’d like to look forward to hearing played in every nightclub you can’t get in to.