Nirvana left a lot of admirers in its wake, but whether or not the three members of Australia’s Neon curl up with warm blankets and faded LP jackets of Bleach at night really isn’t the issue. The fact is, Neon’s self-titled record is mostly guitar-heavy power pop, riddled with harmonies and radio-ready characteristics. And the result is a polished and, at times, rather tame debut that should probably be half as long as it is.
Before signing to Graham Coxon’s Transcopic label and releasing two EPs, Neon did a couple demos for the Oz management label, based in Australia. Oz helped launch the career of both the Vines and Jet, one of the world’s suckiest bands. Suffice it to say that a Nirvana-type power-pop outfit had a pretty good chance of getting signed.
Neon has its shimmering cock-rock moments, a la Boston or Free, that call for a sixer of Bud and a ride in the Camaro down to the Gas ‘n’ Sip. But it also has tracks that sound as if they’ve already been played. Opener “A Man,” once a single from Transcopic and highly regarded on Little Steven’s garage radio show, is loud, seventies guitar mania right out of the “Freedom Rock” television commercials. Its choppy, familiar chord progression is undeniably comfortable in its predictability.
But the stuff on “A Man” is not the sort of predictability the fellas in Jet work into every well-traveled piece of crap they’ve recorded. It’s the kind that makes for great singles, even if you know exactly what’s coming up next. Same goes for “Hit Me Again,” which is polished, expensively recorded blasts of power chords and crash-cymbal jubilance. The song’s definitely listenable, but it’s also potential backdrop fodder for a WB teen drama.