NEON LEAVES – A ROOM FULL OF STRANGERS – FLICKNIFE RECORDS
Neon Leaves is a new name to me, although apparently this quartet have been together for some years and this their second album was released back in 2016 but has only recently come to my attention. Comprising Trevor Barras (drums, percussion, backing vocals), John Bowes (piano, keyboards, guitars, flute, backing vocals), Graham Jones (bass, bass pedals, guitars) and Alan Le Patourel (lead vocals, guitars, samples), they were all members of Ishmael in the Eighties before getting back together in 2011 as Neon Leaves. Musically there are a fascinating mix, as while Hogarth-era Marillion are a major influence on their sound there is a great deal else going on. I was listening to “Degrees of Separation (Dear John)” and the early stages of that song sounded almost exactly like another band and it took me ages to put my finger on it, early Credo! But that single song also includes elements of the likes of Porcupine Tree, Japan, Pere Ubu and early Genesis, and there are times when one just doesn’t think the different threads will ever get back together again, but somehow it all makes sense.
The band uses space as a very deliberate additional instrument, allowing it to move between the music so there are times when the arrangements are quite dense and others when it seems the listener can walk between the notes. The use of piano, guitar sustain, different bass sounds and a drummer who understands that what he doesn’t play is as important as what he does, along with an incredibly melodic singer makes for very interesting listening indeed. Delicate, straddling the sub genres of neo prog and crossover, there are also times when the band become almost psychedelic on “The Owl and the Beetroot Jar” (as an aside, if you have never had a kiwi burger you simply must – just add fried egg and beetroot into the bun as well, honest it works!), and the result is an album I enjoyed the more and more I listened to it. Given it is now fur years since this release, I wonder if there is a new one on the horizon? I hope so
8/10 Kev Rowland