Hailing from Austin, Texas, musician Abram Shook looks like he’s been beamed in from some alternative version of 2019 where the Seventies never ended, judging by the cover to fourth album The Neon Machine, but his Prince/Bowie party riffs and modern beats make his music some of the most loveable out there.
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Abram Shook is the electro counterpart to the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne; they even look alike, both rocking that scruffy silver fox look. Shook's new album is a technicolour trip through disco, electronica, and house all rooted in a psychedelic sensibility. I suppose if you imagine something along the lines of Tame Impala's recent forays into dance music then you're in the right area.
'The Neon Machine' is a very apt name. It conveys the colourful vibe of the record as well as how synthetic this album sounds. Every instrument sounds as if it's been processed beyond belief but it sounds great. This record is clean and almost oppressively bright but it's never clinical. It's also pleasingly retro but delivered in a slightly tongue-in-cheek way. Shook delivers camp and showy arrangements completely seriously (see Dinner and the Ballet for more examples of why this kind of thing is great). With song titles such as 'Neon Love', 'Cocaine Blonde', and 'Sugar Teeth', the record seems self-consciously dumb but never jokey.
I think it's clear from my constant caveats that this album walks a filigree line between the soulless and the over-the-top, always pulling it off. 'The Neon Machine' is a real hoot. It's exactly the kind of thing that deserves to be charting: fun, succinct, and catchy. Move over Billie Eyelash, Abram Shook is here.
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- The Neon Machine by Abram Shook
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