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Following their 2010 flurry of vinyl releases, the Neu Ideas CD neatly compiles Still Flyin's recent forays into krautrock and pulsating dance-pop. Neu Ideas displays a more refined studio veneer than their debut album Never Gonna Touch the Ground, but maintains the Still Flyin' "hammjamm" credo, guaranteeing fans a toothy grin and a shaky rump.
Having entered the world in 2004, the band soon became renowned for their rumbustious live show. With a line-up numbering well into double figures and a dubious-at-first infusion of 60s-era rocksteady, indiepop and heartfelt (read: endearingly goofy) party lyrics, Still Flyin' have managed to win over even the most skeptical of punters. They have since toured extensively and played festivals all over the world including SXSW, Laneway and the Pavement-curated ATP.
Working again with producer Haima Marriott (AiH), and drawing heavily on the dark synth melodies of Kraftwerk and the repetitive rhythms of the title's namesakes, on Neu Ideas Still Flyin' lead us through fields of blossoming aural flora, flush with all kinds of colourful sounds from the synthetic and acoustic worlds. Lead singer/lyricist Sean Rawls again finds himself between the eso- and exoteric, veering between the trippy internal monologue of radio-fave 'Bull Riff' and the heart-on-sleeve "life jams" of 'Strength' and 'Higher Than Five'.
1) Victory Walker (2am) 2) Bull Riff 3) Runaway Train II 4) Strength 5) Stay Wild, Tokelau 6) All Lips Touch 7) Neu Idea 8) Victory Walker (6am) 9) Higher Than Five
Bull Riff by Still Flyin' by Lost And Lonesome
Still Flyin, the enigmatic, ham-jamming indie-collective may not have birthed an official follow-up to their chipper debut LP - 2009’s Never Going To Touch The Ground - but that’s not say that the band haven’t been busy. In fact, the band have tantalised with a few intriguing forays into krautrock and pulsating dance-pop, leaking songs here, crafting EPs there. Neu Ideas is posited as a collection of works, the culmination of sporadic creativity since their finest hour. Fortunately, Still Flyin can again be found in top form, the compilation bound to provoke yet another surge of excitement within their audiences.
Part of Neu Ideas’ charm is that, despite acting as a hub of concepts and ideas that have been seemingly foreign to one another over the course of the past two years years, it professes a surprising, coherent thread from beginning to end. You’re unlikely to find as much pizzazz or their renowned party-inspired electricity that forms the foundations of their debut. In fact, the scene set is more often than not of remarkable contrast. Neu Ideas kicks off with the moody Victory Walker (2am), the tempered track marching cooly onward, its slick bass pedalling a brooding, understated groove. It’s immediately apparent that Still Flyin have evolved somewhat, offering a bout pensive anguish crafted with irrevocable allure.
Bull Riff only fortifies the mysterious tension, pulsating with methodical ease and yet curating a rising, ominous climate. It’s only when Runaway Train II begins its percussive rumblings that a return to the band’s familiar free-wheeling, ham-jamming expertise is made, a zany Crash-Bandicoot-inspired ride ensuing. It’s a testament to the band that Neu Ideas flits back and forth, ensuring an emotional equillibrium that ebbs and flows beautifully in a highly evocative affair. There’s a definite hint of an assured creative swagger, Still Flyin appearing comfortable and as confident as ever.
Confident appears to be the key word, here, particularly where Victory Walker (6am) is concerned. It’s not entirely accurate to suggest that it’s a reprise of track one, despite its many similarities. Instead, 6am is a warped melancholic mutation of its predecessor, a hauntingly hypnotic descent ensuing in a fiercely affecting overhaul. The juxtaposition between the similarities and the disparities of the track makes is only the beginning of a captivating finale. Higher Than Five clocks in at eight minutes in length, an epic conducted with admirable restraint before demonstrating once more the band’s jamming prowess.
In nine songs, Neu Ideas demonstrates exactly what it needed to: Still Flyin remain a creative tour de force and - just as their ability to remain active between albums suggests - they thrive upon constant metamorphosis, stunning results emerging from each avenue. Furthermore, they ensure it’s a trip you want to take with them, through their dizzying, ecstatic highs and their tempered lows. A collection boasting many delights, Neu Ideas effectively encourages anticipation for Still Flyin’s next move. It’s hard to know exactly what that might be, but then that truly is the beauty of it.