EP Review – Bus Stop Nights by Neutrals (2022) (Static Shock Records)
Just as there was in the late 80s and early 90s, there is still a small number of acts with an interminable sense of cool, who prefer to do things differently. Whether by considered choice, or simple natural proclivity, theirs is the musical path less travelled.
Oakland, California’s, Neutrals appears to fall directly in between the above explanations, as they juxtapose all manner of indie-cool yesteryear, into a sound that they have made their own since the brilliance of the 2019, Kebab Disco, debut album.
Starting with a core foundation of professional Scottish (indie-pop) courtesy of the Lanarkshire accent of Allan McNaughton (Giant Haystacks) and augmenting this sense of BMX Bandits demi-twee, with a caustic driven, jangly garage rock energy, their sound is the unreplicable mix of C86 ramshackle and The Undertones drive.
The most memorable track is the ‘ode to the billy bullshitter’ anti David Watts (The Jam) assasination, that is Gary Borthwick Says. British, in all things sardonic parody (or at least it would be if we did not all know a Gary Borthwick or nine), this is the best track that Dan Treacy / Televison Personalities never quite got around to writing. It is backed in similar nuance by a title track opener that adds ladels of jagged edged, jangled riffs into the alluring mix.
In fact, unsurprisingly with a band that contains Phil Benson (Magic Bulletsand Terry Malts) the jangled riffs are never far from the forefront. However, they are perhaps more certain of themselves, as they drive themselves through brash power-pop intensity in the superlative stand out of Pressures of Life and New Town Dream.
It is only four tracks, but as a body of work they pack a punch that hits you directly in the cooler part of your psyche !