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Stainless Style
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on 22 August 2008
In a time when a lot of new music seems to be completely devoid of soul, melodies or meaning this album comes along, kicks you in the head and makes you remember just how beautiful and life-affirming music can be.

It's a concept album about the life of the carmaker John DeLorean (he of the famous Back to the Future car), but quite frankly the subject doesn't matter at all when the music is this good, and I triple-guarantee this album will put a smile on your face and add an extra step to your walk.

The opening track reminds me of early 80s bombast so much and if I could fill my living room with dry ice and lasers to accompany it I would at the drop of a hat. There's also a slight Deus Ex theme feel to it too which appeals greatly. Boxers should enter their chosen arena to this song! Extreme coolness awaits, surely.

And then you get slapped around the head with the staccato rhythm and a melody surely penned by angels: Dream Cars. You wouldn't think this next song was about a mere hunk of metal and plastic but something more elevated and important. I can't help but smile like a loon and dance in my chair upon hearing this song and for God's sake, it's only track two! This makes you realise that a lot of songs coming out now forget the essentials such as pacing and melody. This has it in spades and is such an uplifting song which leads me on to track three...

Oh God I want to leap out of my chair now and punch the sky, never mind kiss it! Such a simple beat, a nice guitar sound and subtle keyboards backtracking Gruff's singing and then we get the chorus and you can't help but be moved. It's a classic pop song in every regard and beautifully constructed. I almost expected it to finish with an explosion instead of fading out, but maybe that's just me.

Raquel starts with a crazy Vince-Clarke-esque 80s beat and builds just as you'd expect a song before 1985 to build before Gruff's super melodic vocals kick in. Such a great mix here and I can't imagine a better ode to Raquel Welch.

Trick For Treat, track 5 has the capacity to knock you off your feet. It starts with a plaintive lyric and then after the pause, whoa, what the heck is this? Falsetto rapping? Sounds odd but intriguing, then a more traditional sound. This is one of the most progressive and impressive tracks on the album with an infectious chorus that you can't help but join in with. It's channelling a bit of Missy Elliott in its mix but you have to love that line - 'She got me dreaming like a Michigan boy, in Hollywood'.

OK, five tracks in, this is pretty good. What next? Oh dear God, Steel Your Girl? This is a cross between The Smiths (that guitar is so Johnny Marr, surely and Gruff could be Morrissey here) and an explosion in a pop factory. There's such a feeling of loss and hope, helped along with soaring keyboards and backing vocals that you can't help but be moved by. This is a wonderful song that I could play every day until I die without becoming bored of it.

Next up is Cate le Bon's singing of I Lust U and it's such a tight, wonderful pop song. Boom Bip's, er, bipping (how else do you describe that noise?) through this song is so standout and works as a wonderful counterpoint to the main lyrics that this is quite possibly the best track on the album for me. It's short, to the point, superb.

Track 8, Sweat Shop is such an interesting song and a change in style from what you've heard previously, yet it fits in quite well with the theme of the album. I don't even know how to begin to describe this song. It's sexy, lively and all about the rhythm with a consistent, heavy bass to boot.

Belfast is track 9 and is such a powerful statement of a song. After the slow end of the previous song this comes out and kicks you square in the jaw with its wonderful synth lead and reminds you what wonderful sounds the 80s could produce. Soaring keyboards accompany Gruff's lament to the failed factory, comparing DeLorean's reign there to the USA's in Vietnam. Slightly OTT, but the singing is slightly subdued compared to the synth and works so well and leads brilliantly in to the next one...

... which is all about the excess of the 80s. I doubt I'll ever get tired of track 10, Michael Douglas. It's such a brilliant, dynamic, superbly-crafted track that has it all with an insanely catchy chorus that you can't help singing along to.

Track 11, Luxury Pool is a rap track which is quite possibly the best thing I've heard this year. The backing track to the vocal is so unique and fits incredibly well with it - maybe it will get you famous. There's a bit of a traditional Egyptian synth sound until the break and then it reminds me so much of 8-bit computer sounds before refreshing to the main theme for the last 50 seconds or so. Truly wonderful and really very unique. I mean, come on, who else is doing anything at all like this nowadays?

And then the final track, an inspiring sing-along that closes out the album on an uplifting, though sad, sparkly note.

The thing is, though, that I'm left wanting so much more. 43 minutes is all well and good but this is without doubt the best album I've heard all year and now I want more! I hope I can see them live in a couple of months time but this album will live with me for a long, long time. If you're prevaricating, don't. Buy this today, it's wonderful, upliftingly wonderful!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 20 March 2008
Nod. Wink. Clever boys I'm thinking.

Painting by numbers is not necessarily a cheap concept. It all
depends upon who's applying the colour and in the hands of Hollon
and Rhys the brushes move deftly, confidently and with grace across
a complexly constructed canvas of 12 winningly wise compositions.

The album is a triumph of content over style. Musical references
are knowingly and lovingly integrated in material of memorable
lyrical and melodic power and originality.

By any measure these are great songs. Indeed, the 5 minutes of
pure pleasure that is 'Raquel' contains one of the best blasts
of pure pop sensibility that you are likely to hear this year.

The meltingly glorious Beach Boys harmonies of 'Steel Your Girl'
wrap around like warm cashmere. The rapterludes in 'Trick for
Treat' and 'Sweat Shop' are laugh-out-loud hilarious.

This project will make you feel like a kid with a new toy that
you just can't put down.Well done guys. What does it feel like
to have a fully formed hardcore hit on your hands ?
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on 3 April 2008
Gruff Rhys one of the brightest indie-pop exponents of the last 12 years has produced another gem with this 12 track concept-album about US car legend John Delorean.
With Yank twiddler Boom Bip sorting out the music,Rhys moulds his impressive vocal range around some memorable tunes,varying from indie-pop to eery disco-rock.
"Michael Douglas" and "Belfast" are modern Noughties music at its best,while "I Lust U" should be a single and top of the charts,its that good.
Sadly, the subject matter is possibly too strange for the bland chart appetites of the UK but this is a fascinating album, a clash of styles and cultures with something to learn too. (i didnt know that the Delorean cars were built in Belfast for a short time).
Buy this...its a work of art.
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on 12 July 2011
A collaboration between Super Furry Animals' frontman Gruff Rhys and producer Boom Bip, this album tells the story of the rise and fall of John Delorean (the northern Irish carmaker). They describe it as "a very frivolous electro-pop record about the first playboy engineer".

Reading the blurb this album shouldn't really work, but it does. Musically it nostalgically channels 80's pop while somehow putting a modern electronic slant on proceedings. It's a real mix of slower numbers, great pop tunes and hip-hop heavy tracks, the latter keeping you on your toes while never grating. The lyrics are great, full of depth yet on the surface quite whimsical.

Highly recommended.
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on 2 July 2013
A terrible, ill-conceived car-crash of an album. Boom Bip's contributions have dated terribly, while Gruff's synth-driven songs are mediocre at best.

For me, Stainless Steel's only redeeming factor is the Cate Le Bon-fronted "I Lust You". I could quite happily listen to an entire LP's worth of melodic beuaties like that one.

Perhaps the new Neon Neon LP will be a little more impressive?
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on 3 April 2008
The combination of Boom Bip and Gruff Rhys may seem like a strange pairing considering the difference in the pairs separate back catalogues, but this is what makes Neon Neon work so well; two styles fused into one new one. The only weak moments in this record are when the fusion doesn't quite come accross; opening instrumental "Neon Theme" leaves us wondering where Gruff Rhys is, while the very indie lite ballad "Steel Your Girl" is so reminiscant of something Super Furry that we wonder where Boom Bip has got to. Neither tracks are bad, they just don't fit.

When the fusion works, we are presented with some very classy, funny, intelligent music - with a wealth of highlights. A string of guests adds to the variety. The only big dissapointment is the ending track "Stainless Style" which may feature the Magic Numbers - but for all it's meandering quasi gorillazy gospelness it needed have bothered. A far better end to the album would have been the mournful electro balladry of "Belfast". Still, a great album on the whole.
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on 7 April 2008
Sleek, synth-sounding, steely chrome never sounded or looked this good in the 80's - back in an age when the best intentions of musicians either suffered from a 70's hangover or overblown hedonistic gestures, the best synth offerings on hand 20 years ago are re-created and if anything enhanced by the passing of time.

All gestures here are made with appropriate levels of 21st-century humour and irony intact. The synth of `Dream Cars', `I Told Her on Alderaan' and `Michael Douglas' are pure retro and unexpectedly the occasional inclusion of indie-pop (that you'd expect from Gruff Rhys) on `Steel Your Girl' and the slick production of Boom Bip on laugh-out-loud hip-hop tracks `Sweat Shop' and `Luxury Pool' suprisingly succeeds - but hey, unearthing unexpected classics is what enhancing your music collection is all about...

If you've followed SFA as long as I have and listened to some of their well-intended ideas not quite materialise over the last few years, then you'll revel in unearthing this fully-realised gem.

Patrick Bateman would undoubtedly approve, notch the volume up and cruise down the highway in an open top listening to this with a sarcastic smirk... ...what finer 80's tribute can there be? I recommend you don your old leather jacket, Ray Bans and Nike Airs, update your cassette player for something a little more contemporary and make the appropriate purchase.....
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on 28 November 2008
He's a canny lad that Gryff Rhys! I've had this album on rotation for over 6 months now, and it never fails to entertain.
An album which gives Belfast the concept album, glamour treatment usually reserved for Detroit, Neon Neon spin a nostalgic 80's synth pop web suffused with style and substance to spare!
Yes it's a pop record, but it's done with such grace, quality and respect for it's source material that you are literally skewered on the countless pop hooks flying out of the speakers! Great synths, great basslines, canny, intelligent lyrics, fantastic!
Gryff has used Boom Bip's talents to good effect, while he can create some interesting electronic ditties, they always seemed somewhat rudderless at times, here however, Neon Neon is a pop marriage made in heaven, and this is an album that gives pop a good name.
Great opening with the Neon theme, remeniscent of the opening to Van Halen's 1984 to my ears!
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on 23 March 2009
This is an album that will obviously appeal to SFA fans, probably more than Boom Bip. There are some great songs here with top drawer melodies and a definite 80's poly synth sound which strangely works well and of course is much back in vogue anyway. There really are some strong songs such as Dream Cars and I Lust You which work well. There is a problem with this album though as for however much i try i cannot marry these lovely melody driven pop songs with the rap tracks which just don't work. Its great to have a varied palette but if you don't like grime rap stuff then it is very hard not to skip these tracks. There aren't many of them so even if thats not your bag the album is still worth getting. If you like the rap stuff and like the more psychedlic pop of SFA then you'll love from start to finish-either way, its a great refreshing album and worth spending your pocket money on.
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VINE VOICEon 17 June 2008
I bought this on a recommendation from a mate. What a top record. Hey, if you are going to write a concept album about John DeLorean you had better make sure your ideas and songs are sound. This is just spot on! It gets the early 80's synths sounds absolutely right (and that is difficult in it's own right), the couple of R&B raps are brilliantly executed have a story to tell and engage with the hard electronic sounds, the other songs such as 'Dream Cars', 'I told her on Alderaan', 'Raquel', 'Steel Your Girl', 'Belfast' and 'Michael Douglas' are just glorious pop classics! 'I lust you' should be released for the summer club scene.

I know it's all done with tongue firmly in cheek but if you are going to release electro-pop of this standard, even as a laugh, please can we have some more of the joke!! Truly excellent.
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