Neutrals New Town Dream

Static Shock Records
31st May 2024

Format Info

LP - Red Vinyl

Incredible 2nd album from American Scots Neutrals who tightrope walk the fine line between dream and nightmare on New Town Dream.

From Milton Keanes to East Kilbride, the post-war sprouting of purpose built new towns on the outskirts of Britain’s major cities prompted new living arrangements, invented new constituencies and created new mythologies apart from the traditional town / country divide. These were places between other places, self-contained units of living where everything was new except the problems, which were very old.

On New Town Dream, Neutrals contribute to the growing mythology of these places, celebrating histories of protest and resisting the crushing inevitability of small and big C conservativism. If you’ve been keeping up with all things Neutrals you’ll be au fait with their toxic (in a good way) mix of late 70s DIY & Power Pop, agit-punk and acerbic, witful social commentary. 2024’s Neutrals lean in to the melodic sensibilities with some bittersweet personal touches. On lead single Wish You Were Here, a classic boy-with-girl-harmony chorus is a total kitchen-sink (if it was in a cheap Benidorm half-board hotel) tear jerker, an errant bae writing home to sad Gary that they’re never coming home.  Stop The Bypass recalls TVPs, Mark Perry, Alternative TV with an ode to the Pollok Free State protest movement of the early 90s and a history of the seam of civil disobedience that runs through British culture from the Kenmure St. Protests to the Cable Street riots and further back.

What’s so great about New Town Dream is that it colours in the grey concrete of the New Town city centres, bringing human stories and the pathos of lives lived in the margins, crushed by Thatcher’s miserable neo liberal mania. There’s something that tugs on Travel Agent’s Windows, with foreign holidays coming just in time in the late 70s and 80s to relieve the pressure of trying to survive. On closer Leisureland teenagers’ ennui rubs up against the lack of any provisions for them, the bitter irony of the song title bristiling with anger and sadness. As with all things Neutrals, however, there’s a sense of humour to the grimness and the album’s closer “Across the road the neon sign for Leisureland still glows, they forgot to turn it off when it closed,” sums up one of the record’s central theme. A country in decline, generations of kids making do in the ruins. Only Neutrals could make it so catchy, funny and bittersweet at the same time.

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