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NEOSUPERVITAL has taken the music of the 80s as his blueprint, added in a large dollop of tongue-in-cheek humour, mixed in some observations on modern Ireland and garnished it all with a sprinkling of wry irony. And he’s bloody brilliant at it.
John Walshe, 28 Aug 2006
Do you ever hanker after a simpler time: a period when skies were bluer, pints were cheaper, people were friendlier and even the dogs on the street greeted you with a chirpy grelp (midway between a growl and a yelp, but friendlier)? This was a time when bad haircuts were de rigeur for popstars, when a new age of romance topped the charts and the synthesiser reigned supreme. This, friends, was the 1980s.
Neosupervital has taken the music of the period as his blueprint, added in a large dollop of tongue-in-cheek humour, mixed in some observations on modern Ireland and garnished it all with a sprinkling of wry irony. And he’s bloody brilliant at it.
Drum machines bark out their syncopathed rhythms. A Casio DG20 digital guitar provides a suitably electo-funk melody, while all manner of electronic instruments add their various blips, bleeps and weird effects to the mix. Our be-suited, shades-wearing superhero even gets to grips with something called a Microkorg, which sounds like it could be Doctor Who’s evil nemesis.
The songs are instantaneously and insanely catchy, from the opening disco fervour of ‘Now That I’ve Found It’ to the breakneck optimism of current single ‘Step Into the Sunshine (Baby Alright)’, from the ridiculously bright ‘n’ breeziness of ‘All Because Of U’ to the Gary Numan-esque ‘Drive’. They’re also extremely clever, but without the post-modern, quasi-ironic, pseudo-intellectual, looking-down-your-nose, I’m-smarter-than-you sneer of most so-called intelligent pop music. For a start, they’re fun. There’s the sublimely infectious ‘Rachel’, the first tune to combine electronica and surf pop with anything like aplomb, the video for which is currently wowing MTV2 viewers on 120 Minutes. ‘Nothing’, a song about not feeling the need to do anything much, sounds like the lovechild of Air’s ‘Kelly Watch The Stars’ and the old Top Of The Pops theme tune.
Neosupervital’s not averse to having a pop at the cooler-than-thou brigade, with the unholy trinity of ‘Artschool Girl’, ‘Jazz Fascist’ and ‘Alternative Day’ striking a blow for geeks and ornery folks everywhere: the latter landing a 140bpm uppercut squarely on the chin of the indie poseur set. His ire is more pointed than poisonous, however: he prefers to reserve any real dislike for the self-loathing of ‘PHB (Pathetic Human Being)’, ironically the weakest track here.
That aside, Neosupervital is a funny, catchy and damn fine homage to the ‘80s. If, however, the music of 20 years’ ago makes your hackles rise like Jose Morinho’s at the merest suggestion that he’s not the new messiah of world football, you should approach with caution, as this is the most ‘80s-tastic collection this side of the first few Now That’s What I Call Music LPs.