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Best New Album: Neon Neon Praxis Makes Perfect

Best New Album: Neon Neon Praxis Makes Perfect

The collaborative team of Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip a.k.a. Neon Neon are back this April with new album, Praxis Makes Perfect. In much the same manner that 2005’s debut, Stainless Style focused on a figure from recent history in playboy car manufacturer, John Delorean, the new album casts its eye on Italian left-wing political activist and publisher, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.

The album opener and title track, Praxis Makes Perfect, is a cacophany of retro-futuristic bleeps, drones and drums with snippets of spoken words whose nearest relative is Pink Floyd’s On The Run from Dark Side of the Moon. This rather sinister sounding opener is a bit of a red herring as the remainder of the album features some perfectly captured nostalgic electro-pop evocative of a time when socialism was real and existing.

The album, whilst being obviously politicised in its choice of subject is never heavy and has an infectious naivety throughout to offset the possibility of Neon Neon taking themselves too seriously. The playfulness comes across in the quirky lyrics and rhymes from tracks like Dr. Zhivago and The Leopard (Dr. Zhivago, I’m just waiting for a coal embargo…what a lyric!) which recount moments in Feltrinelli’s life as well as making allusions to radical novels that he published. Hoops With Fidel opens with a catchy samba that, along with the lyrics, references the time Feltrinelli met Cuban leader Fidel Castro as well alluding to other left-wing activists Feltrinelli published.

Vocalist Cate Le Bon returns on the album on the ironically satirical Shopping (I Like To), the track also offers further proof that the tongue is firmly in cheek with the Roxette impression from Gruff in the outro, he’s got the look, he’s got the look. Lead single Mid-Century Modern Nightmare features the voice of Asia Argento, Italian actress and daughter of horror film director Dario Argento, reading extracts from a manifesto that Feltrinelli wrote whilst a political fugitive. The activist broadcast the speech from a transmitter in the back of his Fiat (I have an image of a yellow Cinquecento but that’s highly doubtful) as he drove around Milan, the signal interrupting TV broadcasts and being piped directly into the houses he drove past. Sort of like Hal in Malcolm in the Middle…

So with its democratic marriage of quirky enthusiasm, historical allusions and catchy pop hooks, Praxis Makes Perfect is a worthy successor to Stainless Style and Feltrinelli with his colourful history is a compelling enough character to carry the album. Check out Neon Neon as they play the Saturday at Forbidden Fruit Festival in Dublin this summer on Saturday 1st June.

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