It takes guts for a band to put their hands up and acknowledge that what they are doing isn’t working and start again. It’s something that The Horrors did to great effect, also when Joe Lean’s Jing Jang Jong went wrong, they took to their Neu! albums and reinvented themselves as brilliant glumgazers TOY, this isn’t Madonna style zeitgeist leeching, it’s ripping it up and starting afresh. Neils Children are the latest band to undergo such transformation, they’ve been around in one form or another since the early 2000s but the latest reboot is the one that looks to be gaining fruit.
Finally releasing a debut album in 2009 after 10 years of gearing up to it, they instantly looked like they were aping The Horrors despite them being around first. It didn’t help that they were making a similar kind of Cramps meets Bauhaus noise clad in the same black skinny jeans and gothic face paint, they just weren’t as pretty-boyish and by 2009 The Horrors had rustled up their ‘Primary Colours’ album and moved on leaving any similar bands behind anyway. Back from a recent hiatus, Neils Children have new members and have dropped the schlock and recorded a really strong album, the recently released ‘Dimly Lit’, tonight’s gig being its launch.
Showing off their new sound tonight, Neils Children perform a fascinating mixture of post punk gloom and grand instrumental mood pieces as played by the forgotten musicians of old French pop singles from the early '60s, chucking in the repetitive sounds of atonal krautrock with a dash of light psychedelia and twisted chamber music. As a front man John Linger is no longer some dead eyed human zombie, he’s now a fire-cracker waiting to go off, similar to much missed Adrian Borland from '80s doom rockers The Sound, if this is an area of sound they chose the explore with their future recorded output then we may have a real gem of a band on our hands.
Live their big ideas played out on a shoestring are lost to a need for noise, the little intricacies only evident on the instrumentals but this is down to the average sound system rather than the band. Taster single ‘Trust you’ is the highlight, the Doorsian swagger, the skeletal guitar work and metronomic one note keyboard atmospherics collide with moody bass notes perfectly. After a decade of head scratching, Neils Children have finally sussed out what works effectively, however, without the benefit of the hype machine they still have a lot to do, tonight’s performance and their ‘Dimly Lit’ album has them laying down the base for an exciting future… finally!
Words by Chris Todd