NEILS CHILDREN – X.Enc (Structurally Sound)

Neil’s Children have been around for about ten years now, and it looked like they would break through at the same time as the Horrors, so it is a shame that label and other problems have caused them to take this long to produce their debut album. Whether the wait has been worth it is a matter that will divide opinion. ‘Motorcar’ opens proceedings with a hark back to the indie boom of the late 80’s, as I can hear traces of bands like Section 25 and Crispy Ambulance in the jerky rhythms and growled vocals. ‘Sometimes It’s Hard To Let Go’ is more of the same, but with a catchy guitar figure running through the song and a falsetto chorus, but from ‘An Exchange’ on it is The Cure who exert the biggest influence. ‘Communique’ is a nice little instrumental, enhanced by the use of discordant Gang Of Four guitar stabs, but you are starting to get the impression that if this album had come out twenty years ago it would have been more contemporary. ‘Indifference Is Vital’ has some nice scratchy guitar-work in amongst the chanted vocal refrain, but it is ‘I’m Ill’ that stands out here. Not only is it totally different to everything that has gone before, but it is actually a really good indie pop song, and so no surprise that it was released as a single a couple of years ago. It’s exuberant backbeat and vocal harmonies mark it as a high-point of the album. The JD bass-lines are pulled out again for ‘The Eyes Of A Child’, as is the PIL guitar for ‘Terror At Home’, but they are used as springboards for the band to produce a couple of good songs. ‘People Change Their Minds’ throws everything in the mix to make this closing song a bit different, so we have megaphone vocals, rumbling bass and touches of dub in there, but once again it all gels together to make an intriguing song. It is hard to say if this album would have been more successful had it come out seven or eight years ago, as the influences would have been fresher in people’s minds and that might have gone against the band. As it is, I can hear flashes of favourite groups of yesteryear and so enjoy the music on that level. Younger fans will think that this is all new and appreciate it for that, so really the band can’t lose. All in all it is a good album, if a tad derivative, but I enjoyed listening to it and that it what really counts.