Neon Highwire - The Luminescence EP

Bill Cummings 27/03/2010

Rating: 3/5

Neon Highwire are three suited up London based men (Jim Dippie, Luke Fussell Steven Morgan) hailing from two countries, who look like they've been plucked out of a scene from Ricky Gervais' office. They have one goal with their grab bag of electro punk 'to make you dance like a grizzly bear on a Turkish hotplate.' With parts of their debut EP Luminescence they certainly succeed! Whilst much of the recent wave of lifeless, derivative, disposable electro pop has been executed with all the painful surgical precision of having one of your wisdom teeth removed with a lazer, over produced and lacking in energy or personality of their eighties heroes, another lazy neon, copy of a copy cluttering up the charts with painful vocals and obvious rhythms (miss La Roux and Little Boots step forward). Neon Highwire's DIY self produced recordings, capture and do justice to their suggestive, energetic live sets on record. Built on a brightly coloured playground climbing frame of stuttering beats, childlike samples, squelching, swirly synths that call to mind the dexterity of Clor and occasionally the new romantics, while serrated guitars and treble barrelled vocal interplay harking back to the punkiness of early Mclusky and new wave of Xray-Spex.

Opener 'Neon Blink', struts nicely through the midnight gloom on twisty turny guitar licks and thuddy basslines, and a nasally, insistent vocal chant reminiscent of the Futureheads, detailing a bad night out when you're left to dance alone (“what do I say when you're already gone?”). The hyperactive 'Don't Wait' buzzes and spits delightfully, jumping around the dancefloor like Zebadee, moving limbs compulsively with its euphoric refrains, and Casio keyboard doodles, its like NIN with a head full of cherryade. In contrast “Creation #4.00” is less successful like Depeche Mode bside, marred by the deadpan vocals and tinny toy bomb sound effects.

However the two standout moments are to be found at the heart of the record, the disco beat 'Under Moonlight' has previously garnered radio play on Tom Robinson's excellent 6music show and one can see why, a spiralling keyboards, and glacial guitar licks give way to a addictive, I love you/I hate you, chorus line (“never regret a single touch/believe that love hurts you so much”) and spoken word backing that's the sound of a man putting together a giant rubix cube. My favourite track here is the fizzing, angular 'Isometric View'. On first listen the unlikely combination of undulating waves of commodore samples, chopping riffage, ridden by part strangulated cry, part spat out spoken monologue, these Welsh/English vox may initially deter you, but stick with it and you'll release a bitterly skewed take on the world, and when the robot vocal effects kicks in around the second half it takes this track up several stories of the high-rise flats into almost Daftpunk territory. Closing effort 'Akira' begins promisingly with a buzzing sample line set against a digital network of beats, shimmering bar chords and twitching glitches, before giving way to what is a pretty bog standard set of clunky, naval gazing lyrics delivered with a militaristic determination redolent of Gary Numan. Sadly it's much less successful than the previous tracks here.

Overall though The Luminescence EP is a schizophrenic melting pot of influences bourne of the brains of three imaginative people, reach inside this aural lucky bag and you'll find some delightful moments, and some that don't quite hit the mark, but they are played with a passion, commitment and humour that could teach many more established electro acts how to actually enjoy making music!