As co-founder of the label, L-Vis 1990 (James Connolly) has not only been instrumental in its success but also made a name himself with his solo output on Night Slugs and Diplo’s Mad Decent label.
Connolly follows on from the collective achievement of the ‘Allstars’ compilation with the more individual vision of his debut album. Although the 15 tracks can comfortably be described as having a Night Slugs sound they are definitely one man’s ‘Neon Dreams’.
The record is an effortlessly stylish amalgamation of influences and styles, there are pared down rave chords over a house beat, a touch of ‘80s pop and occasionally something darker lurking in the background, perhaps gleaned from dubstep.
The grandiose spoken word intro on ‘Vague Flashes’ lets you know that this is not just a collection of L-Vis tracks but a carefully constructed and cohesive piece of work. Of course, many would work on their own as dance-floor fillers in a club but the album flows so well it is a treat to listen to as a whole.
The tropical house of ‘Forever You’ may sound familiar as it was previously released a year ago but apart from that everything else here is brand new. Including the wonderful melancholy of ‘The Beach’ with its deep woozy bass and light-touch, pensive electronics. Having clear vocals with verses on a number of tracks is a nice touch; it’s engaging and recalls a trend in dance music that has been glossed over by many contemporary producers.
One or two of the more functional electro-house numbers could be cut to make this a more lean dream. But complaining about having too much music in one place does seem a bit silly, especially as there are no real duds on the record.
Some followers of Connolly might have been hoping for the inclusion of a standout club anthem. The closest thing to that is closer and title track ‘Neon Dreams’, which reprises the stuttering air-horn and fairy tale piano lines of ‘Vague Flashes’ and adds perfect drops, a rising bass buzz and ripples of 8-bit. It is quite a statement, but not a pure dance 12”.
And that is what this album is about. It feels like Connolly has distilled his influences, personality and record collection into something new and vital. And the end product is almost perfect.