Underground Music For The Masses

Atomic Neon – Change review

Label: Black Rain/COP International


   Every now and again a band comes along that has an undeniable throwback appeal tied to a completely different era of music. Germany’s Atomic Neon are just such a band, jumping into what could be termed Coldwave  about a decade and a half after it’s (supposed) heyday but sounding like the better bands of the time. Debuting on a label with Life On Earth E.P.”  in 2007, and the full album Darkenia in 2008, this ensemble act put together soothing guitar, clear synth work and an uncomplicated Rock structure to set European underground radio alight. On the brand new album Change on Black Rain Media (and available Stateside from COP International) they have shown a healthy evolution of programming while not compromising sound quality.


   The first thing you need to know about this album is that it is much slower and more introverted than many of the band’s contemporaries. You won’t find any dance-floor crushing club hits or over the top experimental tracks. This is a straightforward Coldwave and Alternative Rock fusion that belongs on late-night radio and at mellow listening parties in your home. The lyrics are very introspective and personalized and the vocals stay in a very particular range reminiscent of Cure-era Robert Smith. Highlights include the up-tempo and radio friendly “Empty”, the Hard Rock tinged title track “Change”, and the much more whimsical cabaret number “BoOom.”  The only irony to me is the most interesting song of the bunch for my taste turned out to be the “Hidden Track” at the end of the album which hearkens back to the best of Depeche Mode and closes out the album with more energy than most of the rest of the disc.


   The sole drawback here for me was the album is squarely comfortable (perhaps too much so) in its particular niche. While the album overall is quite solid, only hardcore fans of Coldwave and more ambitious audiophiles will appreciate its strengths fully. On later spins the tracks become a little harder to distinguish from one another, if only because the album turns into a long and cohesive listening experience that you will either enjoy immensely or tire of before reaching the end depending entirely on your personal taste. Picky fans who can’t grasp audio nuance and those looking for a quick club hit will find little to enjoy here and it’s their loss. However, fans of this style have a brand new voice on the landscape to get extremely excited about and nostalgic for all over again. Perhaps too much musical Change is not a good strategy for some.

Must have tracks: “Empty” “Change” “She”  “BoOm”  “My Cry Of Pain”  “Last Light”   “Alone/Hidden Track”


For fans of: Veil Veil Vanish, Human Drama, Depeche Mode, The Killers, The Cure, Din [A] Tod


Track List:

  1. Alien
  2. Empty
  3. Change
  4. She
  5. Welt ohne Farbe
  6. BoOm
  7. My Cry Of Pain
  8. Weep
  9. I Hate My Love
  10. Last Light
  11. I Am Black
  12. Without You
  13. Alone (and Hidden Track)

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